We are a strong nation that puts love and human life first!
Mariia Banko has been living in Kyiv for the last 16 years. All her work was related to the restaurants. Maria was a PR Director of a large chain of Dmitry Borisov restaurants, engaged in food journalism, studied the history of gastronomy, impact of food culture on the economy, social status, anthropology etc.
On February 23, Mariia gave a lecture on the history of cooking and had many plans for the next day. But early in the morning her husband woke her up with the news that the war had begun. On the same day, Mariia went to the Cherkasy region, where she remotely coordinates a large volunteer organization. Mariia says that nutrition is very important for people, not only as a source of strength and energy. Delicious hot food also motivates and guarantees a good mood, especially in difficult times.
For the first two days, Mariia says, they simply tried to distribute food to the people in need or to the volunteers. But they received many requests for cooked meals, so on February 26 the first volunteer kitchen started its work in Kyiv and produced 650 hot lunches that day. Now the activities of the “kitchen troops” are systematic and organized. Currently, there are 7 volunteer kitchens in different districts of Kyiv, which prepare about 3,700 meals daily. They target mainly 20 recipients, including military units of the Armed Forces or Defense Forces, doctors of emergency hospitals and maternity hospitals (by the way, a special balanced menu is prepared for pregnant women), as well as the emergency service and public utilities workers. There are also volunteers who deliver food to the elderly, the sick, or simply those who are unable to take care of themselves.
Mariia says that every day the work of the organization costs about $ 5,000. This is the cost of food, but this is partly covered by humanitarian funds, volunteers or entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, these donations are irregular and often cannot cover the proper planning of the menu and the smooth operation of kitchens. Therefore, there is always a need for ingredients. They also need money to pay the cooks, because life is gradually returning to the city, institutions are opening and many people who helped for free are returning to their jobs. The organization is trying to pay at least the minimum daily wage to those who stayed to support them. In addition, they need to pay rent and utility bills for the premises and refuel cars that deliver food.
Mariia is confident that Ukraine will win this war. After all, we have LOVE. Our soldiers are not fighting out of hatred, but for their loved ones, for the future of their families and their country. Rearward fighters also put their love into their work. Mariia said that every evening, after working 10-12 hours in the kitchen, the chefs draw postcards to support the soldiers after a difficult combat mission or the doctors after working non-stop for two days or future mothers who are expecting. The concentration of love and ties that have now emerged between the people make us Ukrainians. We are a strong nation that puts love and human life first!
Before the War
Food journalist, communications expert in the restaurant chain
Site of Operation