Ukrainian restaurants giving away free meals

Kyiv restaurant the Milk Bar used to charge £12 a meal, now it’s producing 500 meals a day for free to help feed the citizens of the Ukrainian capital.

The restaurant has not been able to pay its staff since February but it still has 20 people working there.

“We are all just thinking about people and the community right now,” bakery owner Anna Kozachenko said.

Hers is just one of the food businesses stepping up to support Ukrainians following the invasion by Russia.

“I’m not even thinking about the financial losses,” said Kozachenko.

The staff who have stayed with the firm are now working around the clock to deliver meals to the elderly and refugees from invaded areas outside Kyiv.

Large food suppliers have provided food to the restaurant for free and have promised to do so for “as long as it is needed”. The landlord has also suspended rent for the restaurant.

The Milk Bar is one of more than 450 restaurants that have transformed their businesses to help feed anyone who needs it following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – people sheltering in bunkers, the elderly unable to leave their home, and those fighting on the front lines.

One larger firm, LaFamiglia Group, which has 14 restaurants, a catering business and 17 food markets, has also now switched to providing shelters, food and medical supplies.

The business, which made tens of millions in dollars in sales last year, is now providing more than 8 000 snacks and sandwiches and more than 5 000 hot meals each day for free.

Owner Mikhail Beylin told the BBC suppliers were providing lots of food for free and the rest was being sold at cost, with them not making a profit from it.

The restaurant is using its own money to cover any additional costs.

Beylin said the war had made getting food to and from the restaurant “complicated” and there are fears that they could run out of supplies.

“Now the supply we get is enough to cover the demand and create a small back-up of products in case we face a scarcity,” he added.

Pizzeria owner Ruslan Buriak has 60 volunteers working around the clock at his kitchens in the central-eastern city of Dnipro, which was first targeted by Russian air strikes last week.

The kitchens are producing about 1 000 meals each day for the local population and has been relying on free pasta, oils and meat from local farmers. Like the Milk Bar, Buriak also makes deliveries to elderly people and those unable to leave their homes. (BBC)


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