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!)
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.
Outside there was a weighing machine to weigh the filled-up boxes:
And there was the usual paperwork to be filled in:
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 https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/bring-and-buy-or-exchange/) ….. 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 http://www.collettaalimentare.it/