Food for Thought

Every year there’s a special day (this year it was November 29th) which takes place throughout Italy called “Giornata Nazionale Della Colletta Alimentare”. (National Food Collection Day). This is the eighteenth year it’s running. The object of the exercise is to help needy families by contributions of food.  On this day members of the local voluntary “Misericordia” associations (helping the sick, giving first aid and running the ambulance service) stand outside supermarkets manning cardboard boxes with names such as pasta, riso, piselli, etc. written above them. The public using the supermarket are invited to contribute something which is not perishable (and not alcoholic it seems either!)

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I asked one of the volunteers which items would go best. He replied pasta, rice, sugar and tins.

It’s unfortunate that perishable fresh fruit and veg cannot be included as this would have made for a healthier diet but at least there are many people in Italy who will not go so hungry this year.

The collection is done on a very efficient system. There was a retired Alpino soldier at the entrance to Penny Market with helpers for the food collection just outside the supermarket.

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Outside there was a weighing machine to weigh the filled-up boxes:

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And there was the usual paperwork to be filled in:

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I thought it was a splendid effort. Perhaps these schemes exist in other countries.

If figures are required as to how many people are poor in Italy, (the usual expression is “quelli che non arrivano alla fine del mese” – those not able to get by to the end of the month) then the estimate is just over eight million, 13.6% of the total population. In terms of family units that’s almost three million families, which is over eleven per cent of Italian households. That more than one family in ten in Italy is below the poverty line is both scandalous and tragic – and the situation is getting worse daily.

If you are not sure of what the definition of poverty is in Italy then, simply put, it’s when a family unit of two people has a total income inferior to 999 euros per annum. That’s 795 pounds sterling. When it’s added that Italy is unsophisticated, when compared to the UK, in social welfare benefits (there’s very little…), that its economy is now the most stagnant in the EU, when the unemployment figures declared yesterday were the highest in recorded history (at 13.2%!), that things aren’t getting any cheaper, that the monthly second-hand stalls market in Bagni di Lucca, after a shy start is now crowded (see my post at ….. I could add even more figures but they are too disheartening.

I hope that if you were in Italy yesterday and shopped in one of the over ten thousand supermarkets under this scheme you were able to contribute and help someone with their next meal. The National Food Collection Day’s web site is at


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4 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. I am sorry to say but in the UK also there exist similar organizations which offer food parcels to individuals or families who find themselves in the very same dilemma. However I question this fact of not reaching the end of the month with monies as there are several considerations to be made if one smokes and drinks their monies then it is indeed their choice to so do everyone is entitled to do what they want with their monies some go for the entertainment others to eat out others to party or to drink at bars obviously we all have to make such choices and sometimes even to have to go without at one time or another it has happened to us all to miss breakfasts lunches or suppers! It is actually good to give the system a rest from eating there are certain religions that advocate this fact Ramadam for the Muslims,Fridays fish for the Catholics(which is no longer practiced any more it seems!) Since the majority of us are no longer self sufficient we have lost the art of cultivation of the land in the UK Government suggests that we all try to grow a few food vegetables to think that not so long ago our forebears had a pig in the backyard as well a vegetable plot in the garden or allotment that is how people survived and that is the way we should all try to head for again to link again with the land just even if we grow food in pots there are many ways of doing this even indoors maybe this Spring we should create a plant a seed week plant a tree day and so on. It is not easy to grow ones own food we have tried and had some minor success but rather a lot of failed crops also whether people are stealing them or lack of watering or too much watering I really admire those farmers who work so hard for us to grow our food they have and earn all my appreciation and I even thanked a retired British Farmer that I met with Francis a few weeks ago they certainly deserve all the praise it is a tough job! Actually in the UK as in Italy there exist supermarket own brands which are cheaper and as good as the named brands again it is all a matter of choice. The problem is also that the family orientation mode does not exist as it once did when all rally round to help each other in families and equally not everyone has a family unit. In the UK over the Christmas Festivities there are numerous organizations that help as in Italy they help with meals as well as clothing and offer shelter to those without this is also an all year round activity.

  2. Very disturbing statistics. We do have opportunities to help also here in Australia. It does not cost much to give and it feels so right. We just need to be reminded sometimes.

  3. Well a few tirades have been aimed at Baroness Jenkin this week on the food bank issues regards the fact that *poor people can’t cook* and the *peer has to eat her words* I would add that of course generally people cannot cook if they have have nothing to cook if their cupboard is bare.Also the Archbishop of Canterbury was surprised that Food Banks exist in the UK and will make amends at once to those people in dire need. I am glad to add that now matters are well and truly on their way to try and resolve the problem of tons and tons of food waste sent to infill land as supermarkets keep trashing due date food how ridiculous is that I have often quizzed them on this point and their reply has been that they do not want to take on the responsibility if people fall ill on eating such food well I have been eating it for years and I am ok in fact I saw a banquet on tv that was done for dignitaries under controlled situation ie temperature checks on meats cheeses etc with due dates and past due dates and the result was an amazing feast that was enjoyed by all that attended so the proof was in the cooking and it was fine. Maybe it would be nice to offer people ration cards as I once had together with good recipes for quick dishes as it is not just the cost of food but also the cost of the gas or electric that one needs to cook the alternative is to eat raw food also good for Summer months not in Winter though!

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