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Demand for food donation rises in depression-hit Slovenia

LJUBLJANA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- It seems that years of economic depression in Slovenia is increasingly putting negative impact on every corner of the society and individuals in the tiny Balkan country.

A glaring phenomenon is that people living on charity and free food are on the rise, according to local media.

Being a high-income developed economy in Europe, Slovenia has been offering subsidized school meals for underprivileged primary and secondary school pupils for years.

However, charitable organizations find that more financial aid is necessary for the specific group.

A total of 122 schools have signed up for the Donate Lunch Project since September last year, requesting aid for 3,031 out of a total of 47,201 pupils, Matevz Gantar, head of the project told reporters on Wednesday.

More than 800 donors have contributed over 30,000 euros (40,956 U.S. dollars) so far, which suffices for more than 12,000 meals or lunches. The goal is to collect at least 200,000 euros by the end of the year.

One third of Slovenians need to ask for aid at least once a year, local Pop TV news anchor Jani Muhic quoted an official statistics as reporting.

Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, is battling against unemployment of over 18 percent, and its municipality-operated kitchen feeds around 600 people each day, the Slovenian Press Agency reported early this month.

Some 388,000 euros were earmarked for the public kitchen in the city last year.

Public kitchen in Celje, the third largest town in the country, has served about 160,000 free meals for the poor in 2013.

In addition, a homeless shelter in the capital of Ljubljana offers free meal to 200 people.

Slovenia, which declared independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991, has been in growing financial difficulties since 2008, which saw the start of financial crisis in the United States and Europe.

Eight banks in Slovenia, including Nova Ljubljanska Banka, the biggest bank in the country, are short of 4.78 billion euros in total, an EU-mandated stress test showed in December 2013.

To overcome the crisis, Slovenian parliament approved in June the sale of state-owned stakes in 15 companies, including flag carrier Adria Airways, and New Credit Bank Maribor, the country's second largest banking group.

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