A town in south-eastern Poland, Bilgoraj is home to around 27,000 inhabitants. The town is located in the Lublin province, around 90 km south from the city of Lublin.
Eastern regions in Poland have not profited as much as other parts of the country and salaries remain lower in comparison. As a result, the region continues to have one of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the country.
Since 1983, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bilgoraj.
Relative poverty affects 12% of the population, which amounts to 4.5 million people. This means that households are only just able to afford the basic essentials of food and housing, but nothing more.
As a result, more than 900,000 children are socially and materially deprived, in households that have no buffer in case of a financial shock.
Children in these families live precariously on the margins of society, where many of their basic needs can no longer be met.
Around 2.5% of the population are living in hunger. Nearly 120,000 children report going to school hungry, while more than 260,000 start their day without breakfast.
In fact, more than 70,000 children only eat the meals provided at school as families are unable to provide basic food.
Child hunger has multiple effects, from poor cognitive function to inability to concentrate in school, malnutrition and poor growth, and low levels of well-being with a greater vulnerability to stress.