Nikos Kokkinos, the chief of the city’s social services department said that the municipality has had to increase the amount of daily meals offered at its soup kitchens in the last year because more and more Greeks were going hungry.
“Yes, the situation is getting worse. To give you an example, we used to give out 1200 meals a day, now we’re giving out 1400, and we are arranging to start giving out 1500,” said Kokkinos.
Volunteers decorated a Christmas tree and set the tables with white tablecloths, and a volunteer even brought his own piano to play Christmas tunes for those who came to eat roast turkey, potatoes, salad, yoghurt and traditional holiday sweets.
In Greece, the Christmas day meal is traditionally spent with one’s families, but many who came to the municipality’s lunch have become estranged from their families and had nowhere else to go.
“I’ve been coming here three years now, not only because of this religious and international holiday but also because I have found kindly refuge here as well as, of course, the food which I need,” said a homeless man who did not wish to give his name and who lost his business and all contact with his family three years ago.
“It is loneliness that brings me here, because I am all alone, but also because I do not have enough money to get by. Why else? So I am forced to come here to eat so that I do not starve to death,” said Angleos, whose began to visit the city’s soup kitchens three months ago when his savings ran out.
More than 700 people came for the free meal, according to the municipality.