In response to continued food insecurity in Greece, the Jaharis Family Foundation announced a new $1 million challenge gift to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to expand its programs, implemented in partnership with Apostoli, the humanitarian organization of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens, to offer sustainable access to safe and nutritious food for children, families, and the elderly, and providing relief to refugees.
The gift to IOCC will further the work it has been doing over the past five years to address the critical health and nutritional needs emerging in Greece, support the development of agricultural cooperatives that provide jobs and food, and offer educational programs for students from low-income families.
Every dollar contributed to IOCC’s efforts in Greece by February 28, 2018 will be matched by the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc., up to $1 million to provide fresh food, supplemental food assistance, medical aid, support for agricultural associations, refugee assistance, and other relief over the next two years. An estimated 50,000 vulnerable families throughout Greece will benefit from the program.
“Families have depleted their savings to cope, and yet their living standards have been diminished,” said Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director and CEO. “The goal of our work in Greece is to balance the need to help families meet basic, immediate needs while creating sustainable opportunities that will benefit people in the longer term. We’re grateful to the Jaharis Family Foundation for their generosity in being our lead partner in our efforts to provide humanitarian relief to the most vulnerable populations of Greece.”
A soup kitchen in Athens run by Apostoli provides meals for 1,000 people a day – the largest soup kitchen in Greece. Funded in part by IOCC, it is just one sign of the continuing hardships confronted by a growing number of people in the country.
“Apostoli and IOCC have worked together closely since 2010 responding to the deepening economic crisis in our country. The needs are varied, and there is almost no one in Greece whom the crisis hasn’t touched,” remarked Kostis Dimtsas, General Director of Apostoli. Facing mass joblessness, wage cuts, and higher taxes, Greek families trying to cope with the lingering economic depression – the worst in the last 100 years – have tapped into savings, and many families lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Since 2012, IOCC has received more than $11 million in private support for its efforts in Greece, which it has leveraged to deliver more than $37 million in food, medical assistance, heating fuel, agriculture-development projects, and aid to refugees and migrants, all in close cooperation with Apostoli and other organizations.
With the support of the Greek diaspora community, IOCC has also been working with over 40 agriculture cooperatives in Greece to support sustainable employment opportunities and to bolster food security. Agricultural cooperatives that receive support from IOCC, in turn, provide assistance to social-aid programs in their communities.