The Italian government of conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will introduce food distribution to needy families at least until 2023, following a recent proposal by Democratic Party lawmakers.
Under the proposal, every needy family would receive food assistance.
However, food and drinks will be selected from the unsold products of large food stores and assembled into parcels that will be distributed to families. In this way, the proposal will also combat food waste.
The proposal envisages the allocation of resources to fight “food poverty and avoid the disposal of 230,000 tons of unsold food”, explained the deputy Marco Furfaro (PD), who is among those who launched the initiative.
To cover the costs, the Italian government has budgeted to spend €1.5 million in 2023 to finance this measure, with another €2 million to be spent in 2024.
The Labor Department’s order on the proposal is expected to arrive within the next 60 days. It will likely determine how many will benefit from the new aid and which third sector bodies will participate in the piloting of the new measure.
At present, only the guidelines of the proposal are known. Food aid will only affect metropolitan cities and could start in 2023.
Family packages will be closed through the app and will be picked up by those who need them. For the elderly and dependents, it should be possible to receive food at home.
Under the proposed mechanism, it is envisaged that “the supermarkets will send the unsold food to the municipalities and then the local authorities themselves will be the ones who will distribute or undertake the receipt of the parcels from those who are entitled to them”, explained Furfaro.
According to the 2022 report of the Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali (Censis) on the social situation in Italy, 9.4% of the population lives in conditions of absolute poverty. There are 5.6 million Italians affected, 1 million more than in 2019. More than one in four Italians are at risk of poverty or exclusion.
As Coldiretti pointed out in the 2022 report of the Fund for European Aid to the Deprived (Fead), the new poor are often office workers who lost their jobs or small traders and artisans who were forced to close their businesses. Both categories have suffered greatly first from the COVID19 pandemic and now from the energy crisis.
“Now 600,000 children, 337,000 elderly people and a total of 3 million Italians make use of food subsidies or food parcels when things are good because they cannot afford to go shopping. Now the unsold food will be given to those in need,” said Furfaro.
Critics hope the new measure will not simply consist of giving “leftovers to the needy” and Caritas protested: “Dignity should also be given to those who have nothing, not leftovers or rubbish.”