Evelyn De Morgan Night and Sleep 1878
Yes, yes, I know, high time for another update on the Monastiraki kitchen you have been so wonderfully, gracefully supporting for 7 years now (I first got here in June 2015). First of all, we are doing great, the level of commitment of the crew is unprecedented, very happy with that, it’s rare. I remember in 2015 there were 51 NGOs “helping” the refugees on Lesbos, for millions of EU funded euros, but the Monastiraki kitchen is something entirely different. Give your time, your money, your love. We want no official status, no subsidies, no CEO who makes a ton of money, we just do it.
BUT: see, if you have “just” your family to feed, you’ll be scared seeing prices for food and energy rise. When you feed 500 people, it’s a whole different story. And a much scarier one. Because I realize that there is no way prices will not rise much more. Rising energy prices -which have yet to be reflected in store prices- guarantee that, and so does the slim edge on which many people here already live. We will go from feeding 500 people to 600-700?!, and the food for every one of them will cost 40-50% more than it did before. That is our future.
I saw this report a few days ago on RT (so no link, RT’s only on my phone in Greece), and scary as it looks, it still downplays matters a lot -because it’s based on “official” numbers”. Inflation at 11%? Well, not in my supermarket, it’s more like prices have almost doubled. But look at the energy costs that even official numbers cite:
Inflation in Greece surged to 11.3% year-on-year in May from 10.2% recorded in the previous month, according to the latest data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). According to ELSTAT, natural gas prices saw an annual surge of 172.7%, while electricity bills increased 80.2% and expenses for heating oil grew by 65.1%. The cost of housing reportedly soared 35% year-on-year, transportation prices were up 18.8%, while prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages jumped by 12.1%.
Foods included in the ‘household basket’ saw the biggest price increases with oil and fat rising by 23.2% and dairy by 14.1%. Prices for meat, bread and cereal, and vegetables increased by 13.8%, 13.4%, and 13%, respectively. Meanwhile, prices for fresh fruit grew by 10.8%. Coffee and tea, juice and other beverages, and sweets saw price hikes of 6.3%, 5.6%, and 4.7%, respectively. The price of fish rose 4.1%, while that of alcohol saw an increase of 2.1%.
Greece’s annual EU-harmonized inflation also saw a sharp rise to 10.5% in May from 9.1% in April, further squeezing disposable incomes. EU-harmonized inflation is an index of components used across the EU to measure inflation in a consistent way.
The reality of food prices is a much more grim. In my last article on the kitchen, Dec ’21, I said prices were up 35% from a year ago. Since then, beautiful Filothei -who does the shopping- says this is what happened to prices for our staples:
• Mince meat + 37%
• Pasta + 38%
• Cheese +50%
• Tomato paste +27%
• Vegetables + 50%
• Plates: the aluminum ones we used are up over 100%, we -hope we- found a cheaper plastic solution, but still +40%
On top of that, there are the energy prices. If and when electricity is up 80%, and heating oil 65%, it doesn’t take much brain capacity to figure out that an already battered population is in for a world of trouble. So for us, not only are prices rising, so will -and is- our client base. Double whammy. Already 500 meals instead of 250. Already our new reality, and there is no end in sight. The influence of rising energy costs on food prices will take another 6 months or so to seep through. That is not included in today’s prices! But it will be. And there is no guarantee any government can control any of it, let alone the Greek one. I must admit it scares me at times. At this point we even must worry also about the Monastiraki kitchen crew members; are they alright? Do they have a place to live, food to eat?
Here’s the money we have spent from your donations since my last Monastiraki kitchen article on December 12:
• Dec 21 €400 plates, €50 spices
• Dec 28 €1,500 checks supermarket
• Mar 2 2022 €109.20 table (old one was broken, must be foldable, easy to transport)
• Mar 22 2022 €400 plates
• April 12 €320 olive oil, 3×19 liters tins, 1 free , excellent quality organic oil – From the nuns in the convent that also owns our home base, which we can use for free. We have an agreement that we will fix it up, but that would cost €5000 or so, and with prices rising as they do, even if we had the money, we couldn’t spend it on that. Which means we still have no fridge, no safe storage for food (mice, insects). Double edged sword.-
• Water : We made a deal with a store to buy 100 bottles of cold water for €30 every week (18 weeks=€540). Summers here are hot, it’s simply needed. No running water on the square, no fridge, got to be practical.
• June 7 €1500 checks supermarket
I asked Filothei why €1,000 in supermarket checks we bought in September lasted 3 months, and €1,500 from December lasted 5 months. As prices rose 30% or more. Her reply, basically, is that we went though much of our storage supply. That doesn’t appear to me to be the way to go if you already know things will only get more expensive. Storage should be full, even if we have to store the pasta under our beds. Filothei thinks it will take €450-€550 to replenish the storage, we’ll do that ASAP. So the €1,500 we spent on checks last week is really only €1,000. Important details.
Also, I should never forget the local people who support the kitchen. There is a baker who sends over enough bread for everyone. Another baker sends over tons of fantastic sweets, luxurious pies etc., every week (€100 each time?). They wish to remain anonymous. And there are many like them. The store where we get the water sends over food for vegetarians, to name one example. Plus, of course, most vegetables come from Filothei’s organic garden (how big does a garden have to be before you call it a farm?!). It’s a brilliant operation, and I’m proud to be part of it.
We are a lucky kitchen. Because of all these people, and because of you. Thank you. I’ll end with the usual play:
Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also end up at the kitchen).
I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.
But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month (not all from my readers). I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.
I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.
Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.
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