The situation is dire and the authorities need to implement school feeding programs promptly.
During infancy and early years, as well as during adolescence, there is a great need in high quality marginal substances (proteins, calcium, iron) because of the high rate of growth and development. Also, early childhood years, which coincide with the children’s first contact with a school environment, is the time when nutritional habits are shaped and possibly established. These nutritional habits will accompany today’s children into adulthood and will irreversibly determine their health.
Additionally, it is significant that these children as preschoolers attended public and private nursery schools where meals are included, which renders their transition to a school life without meals all the more difficult.
It is almost absurd that there dozens of kindergartens that are not part of any food aid program are located in the same building complex as primary schools which participate in the “School Meals” Program, implemented by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
The DIATROFI Program of the Prolepsis Institute is implemented for the ninth consecutive school year, with significant results in decreasing food insecurity and improving students’ nutritional habits. However, current funding is not sufficient for the aforementioned need. 988 schools have applied requesting to participate in the Program, among which 271 are kindergartens with 5,000 students, the DIATROFI Program is currently implemented in 70 schools (kindergartens, primary schools, middle schools, high schools in Attica, Sterea Ellada, Imathia, Thessaloniki and Thrace) and 4,428 students – among which, 29 are kindergartens with 755 students- with funding exclusively from foundations, private organizations, individuals and the Region of Sterea Ellada Administrative Unit while efforts are being made for including more schools as part of the program.