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ITALY: Shopping cards help prevent hunger for families

70 families in Sampierdarena receive a shopping card to help with nutritional support


(MissionNewswire) More than 70 families in Sampierdarena, a major port and industrial area of Genoa in northwest Italy, have received a shopping card from the local Salesian parish for 35 euros a week for the next three months. This is a concrete measure to help many people facing financial hardship and food shortages because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for this initiative comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Salesians for Social and the Salesian International Volunteer Service for Development (VIS).

Those who received the financial help are originally from Senegal, Tunisia, Ecuador, Eastern Europe and Italy. They have lived in Sampierdarena for years. Many had stable jobs and were able to care for their families before the pandemic.

Wafa arrived in Italy from Tunisia 20 years ago with her husband. She has three children and her husband’s bricklaying job had allowed them to get by until recently. The pandemic has caused the demand for labor to decrease. Wafa said, “Taking care of five people without even one salary is impossible.”

Father Pierdante Giordano, the local Salesian parish priest, committed himself to this initiative with the help of volunteers from the parish Caritas group, the local VIS group and Salesians for Social. Families were evaluated by need and number of children as well as other economic factors.

“For now, we are supporting 180 families, with 72 families the most in need,” said Fr. Giordano. “Many of the families are already relying on the local food banks for their daily food. The shopping card will enable them to have additional support.”

Michela Vallarino, vice president of VIS, noted, “The initiative was born at the request of the Italian Salesians who wanted to support families during the pandemic. This collaborative project with the United States also provided protective devices in Sampierdarena and distributed 470 tablets to students so they could continue their studies with distance learning.”

Italy, Europe’s third-largest economy, has close to 2 million children living in poverty, according to UNICEF. The poverty rate has risen in the wake of Europe’s economic crisis. Unemployment is at its highest level since the late 1970s with the overall jobless rate at 12.5 percent and youth unemployment as high as 41 percent.

According to UNICEF, a growing number of youth are living away from their families in temporary shelters and within government and charity programs because of inadequate support from or neglect by their families. Salesian programs work to combat these challenges by providing shelter, nutrition, education and workforce development services for youth in need.



Photo courtesy of Don Bosco Genova

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