Three refugee centres in northern Greece on Thursday announced plans to launch communal kitchens in order to replace food distribution by catering firms, in pilot schemes to be organised by non-governmental aid organisations.
The three camps are Oreokastro in Thessaloniki, Cherso in Kilkis and Doliana in Ioannina.
The three centres have already started installing appliances and kitchen utensils, after which refugees will be trained in their use and operation. If the pilot kitchens are successful, the model will be gradually extended to the other refugee centres in Greece.
The kitchens in Doliana will be set up by Oxfam, while those in Oreokastro and Cherso have been taken on by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Talking to the ANA, Reception General Secretary Odysseas Voudouris noted that catering firms had been a stop-gap solution due to the emergency situation that had arisen but this was only transitional, since it did not meet either the needs or wishes of the refugees.
Authorities are still investigating the best way to organise the communal kitchens, however, and whether it is better to allow families to cook separately or organise meals for the entire community in collaboration with the NGOs.
Voudouris said the running of the kitchens would be largely decided by the refugees themselves, and that there would have to be a degree of self-organisation, with the support and supervision of state structures to organise ordering and security issues. The kitchens will be combined with the distribution of vouchers that refugees will use to buy food and other daily necessities from shops in their local area, he said, thus helping boost local markets.
In a survey concerning current food distribution methods, authorities discovered serious shortcomings - including the fact that refugees were currently throwing away 30 pct of food they were given because it did not meet their dietary customs. There were also problems with the diet of infants and children under five and inadequate quantities of bottled water.