12:45 Apr. 23, 2016
Thousands of children forced to eat food from contaminated land because of school lunch program cancellation
Viktoria Vetrova knows the risk her four children take in drinking milk from the family's two cows and eating dried mushrooms and berries from the forest.
But the cash-strapped Ukrainian government canceled the local school lunch program for 350,000 children last year — the only source of clean food in this village near Chernobyl. So rural families are resorting to milk and produce from land still contaminated by fallout from the world's worst nuclear accident three decades ago. Vetrova's 8-year-old son Bogdan suffers from an enlarged thyroid, a condition which studies have linked to radioactivity.
"We are aware of the dangers, but what can we do?" said Vetrova, standing in her kitchen after pouring a glass of milk. "There is no other way to survive."
Vetrova's family and thousands of others are caught between the consequences of two disasters: the residue from Chernobyl and the recent plunge of Ukraine's economy.