ATHENS — Behind the lace curtains of a soup kitchen run by a parish in the humble Athens neighborhood of Kerameikos, the needy and hungry sit down to a plate of sliced cucumbers, three hunks of bread, a shallow china bowl of chickpea soup and often a piece of meat. Sometimes there is even ice cream, a special treat.
People prize the refectory, run by a priest, for its homeyness, and they travel long distances to fill their empty stomachs at least once a day.
But on Thursday, the priest, Father Ignatios Moschos was worried that he would no longer have enough food to go around if the country’s economic paralysis continues, as it seems likely to do even if Greece and its creditors manage to work out a last-minute deal this weekend to avert a Greek exit from the euro.
“It will be hard, dark, painful,” the priest said, nibbling from a bowl of pistachios as a long line of people waited for their turn to eat at the communal tables. “We will have trouble receiving food.”
Poverty in Greece has been deepening since the financial crisis began more than five years ago. Now, aid groups and local governments say they are beginning to feel the effects of nearly two weeks of bank closings, as Greecestruggles to keep its financial system from failing and to break out of years of economic hardship.
And any deal with creditors this weekend will bring further cuts in government spending. It will also bring higher taxes and, as a consequence, more short-term pressure on the economy.
As Athens takes on the aura of Soviet Russia, with lines of people outside banks waiting to receive their daily cash allowance, some aid groups are seeing their supply channels narrow. By some accounts, lines for food, clothing and medicine have grown fivefold in parts of the capital in the last two weeks alone.
The European Parliament president, Martin Schulz, has said he shares Greeks’ concerns. President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission said this past week that the European Union was making plans for humanitarian aid to Greece to cushion the blow if a third bailout was not worked out by Sunday and Greece was forced out of the euro system.
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