In times of peace, they ran a flourishing gastronomy, and now they feed people in shelters and hospitals and soldiers as alms. They need help because Ukraine already lacks basic products. “We spend more than 2.5 thousand servings per day, and we have organized a warehouse for humanitarian aid and medicines. We need disposable utensils, dishes and food products” – Serhiy tells us, owner of a gastronomy restaurant from Kharkiv.
- During the war, Ukrainian gastronomy transformed their buildings into kitchens serving meals to the military and residents for charity
- We serve up to 1,000 lunches a day. At the moment, we need money the most, because we have to pay chefs, couriers and stockpiling products – says Alexander, one of the owners of the restaurant who helps in Kyiv
- Assistance actions for Ukrainian gastronomy are institutionally coordinated by the Uners Foundation, which has been helping in Ukraine since 2014. – We focused on helping those who provide hot meals to imprisoned residents – says Angelika Szkołuda, one of the coordinators
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The war in Ukraine has been going on for more than a month. Due to supply chain disruptions and hostilities, even in non-combat cities, essential products and medicines are in short supply. Ordinary residents of Ukrainian cities who have lost their source of income live in a very difficult situation, and each subsequent bomb alarm leads them to the shelters. In this difficult situation, local gastronomy owners, preparing free meals for the needy, are trying to help – their list is long, because not only civilians protecting themselves from bombs need help, but also territorial defense forces and hospitals. So the Poles are trying not only to help the refugees, but also those who remained in Ukraine. Often, there is a lack of resources to provide assistance in an effective manner.
Ukraine’s outstanding meal
The aid campaign “A Meal for Ukraine”, in which Polish restaurants can participate, is organized by the Uniters Foundation, which has been involved in helping Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian aggression, that is, since 2014. Joining and supporting the campaign is simple – restaurants can fill out the form on the website, After the procedures are completed, customers will be able to purchase a suspended meal for Ukraine, and the money will be transferred to local activists who cook and serve hot meals to imprisoned residents of Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities. You can find a list of participating restaurants here.
Angelica Szckoda, one of the coordinators, told me more about the initiative itself and the initiatives it brings. – Work nationwide, but we drive it from Warsaw. In fact, it was started by two people who coordinate the whole process, but of course we use the support of volunteers. The creator of the project, Yevhen Adintsov, comes from Ukraine, so when choosing initiatives, we used the recommendations of people we know, so that they can confirm their credibility. We have focused on connecting with people who are actively organizing to help feed the people remaining in the cities and regions under attack in Ukraine – he says.
“We help the army, the hospitals, the people in the shelters”
One of the restaurants that organizes food support for the population of Ukraine is Kitajka Restaurant in Kyiv. Its owner, Alexander Curzon, also took part in the Palanycia project (the name comes from traditional Ukrainian bread – editor’s note), according to which free meals are served to the elderly at certain times in one of Kyiv’s restaurants.
– Before the war I had three restaurants, a coffee shop, a sports bar, and seven kitchens that organized food services. From the first day of the war, there are only two places where we cook for the regional defense forces, the armed forces, shelters, hospitals and just for people in difficulty. We serve up to a thousand lunches a day. Right now, we need money the most, because we have to pay chefs, couriers, stockpile produce, packaging, cutlery, and kitchen chemicals — says Alexander.
Also helping are the coordinators of “Meal for Ukraine” Serhiy and Maria, who work in Kharkiv. They also used to run restaurants and bars, which have now been transformed by the war into kitchens where meals are prepared for the needy. In total, they converted five institutions in this way – one of them was scheduled to open in mid-March, but it began with the aid of cooking on February 27, three days after the Russian offensive.
Sarhaj and his staff and volunteers prepare hot meals
Image: author’s materials
Thanks to joint efforts, it is possible to prepare more than 2000 meals.
Image: author’s materials
– Our team currently consists of about 50 people, including drivers, warehouse workers, chefs and suppliers. We work in two ways: first, we cook hot meals and spend approx. parts. In addition, in cooperation with Glovo, we have organized a warehouse for humanitarian aid and medicines, and handle the logistics of helping the elderly and the needy. To continue operating efficiently, we need disposable utensils, cutlery, food products or money to buy on the spot. Medicines are also needed, because Ukraine lacks them, and we have a problem getting them from other countries, because they are prescription drugs. We know that we deal mainly with catering and this is not our topic, but we always try to highlight it, because it is a problem that needs an urgent solution – as they say.
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