Food income, which is why it can help fight poverty in Italy (and waste …

by Ettore Maria Colombo

It has already collected nearly 75,000 signatures in the form of a popular petition. the rfood it could become a right, recognized in the same way as other integration tools Income to people living in poverty. However, unlike other measures, such as the basic incomefood income does not bring in money, it food. In practice, food income is a social project that provides for the national development of a collaborative relationship between institutions, individuals and the third sector for the preparation of food parcels through recovery of food at risk of being wasted distribution and their subsequent disbursement in the municipalities. The proposal is the brainchild of a social influencer who navigates parts of the Democratic Party, Leonardo Cecchi.

A proposal that found two main sponsor Very important. The association Ali (Italian Association for Autonomyabout 1500 municipalities of progressive political matrix and of the center-left area, President Matteo Ricci) and of the Network of sustainable municipalities (president Valerio Lucciarini De Vincenzi) who works on environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability policies based on the 17 United Nations sustainability goals and the 12 equitable and sustainable well-being goals and who was born in January 2021 at the initiative of Ali herself, by Leganet (Ali’s company for consulting and services in technological innovation for local authorities and public enterprises) and City of Bio (the association that federates the municipalities and local authorities that promote organic farming). With a press release, the three organizations – ALI, Sustainable Municipalities Network and Città del Bio – explain the reasons for joining the food income project.

A homeless man in Naples. In Italy, hunger and food poverty are increasing (Photo Ansa)

How many Italians are in poverty (and those in absolute poverty)

“In Italy hunger and food poverty are increasing – underlines the national president of Ali, Matteo Ricci -, for this we need help to support families. In our country they are about 9 million people in poverty, 5 million in absolute poverty, distributed in more than 7,000 municipalities. The administrations and bodies of the third sector are making enormous efforts to try to contain the emergency, also thanks to the support of the State. But you also need tools to create capillary distribution and avoid food waste: let’s think about logistics, the collection of goods, vehicles, people”.

Ali, together with the Città del Bio Association and the service company Leganet, has therefore promoted the project of the Sustainable Municipalities Network, an association that aims to contribute to the achievement of the 17 United Nations sustainability goals that guide the choices of the ‘ European Union and constitute the 2030 Agenda: thus translating at the local level the objectives of the BES – Equitable and sustainable well-being defined by Italy. “The Food Income Initiative is a step in exactly that direction: one more tool to contribute to fight against poverty and hungerthe first two Goals of ONU. With the aim of achieving food security, improving nutrition, promoting sustainable agriculture, supporting families in difficulty,” concludes his note Ricci.

Ali’s National President Matteo Ricci: ‘In our country there are about 9 million people in poverty and 5 million in absolute poverty’

Food income, how it works

The food income designed by Leonardo Cecchi works, explains the creator, as “a tool to support people in need. People in economic difficulty are granted the right to have foodstuffs equivalent to a given number (between 300 and 500 euro). Through a menu similar to a prepaid, the employee can go directly to supermarkets and collect unsold items, then “pay” with the menu. Supermarkets make a profit because for every food they give, they have fiscal advantages derive from anti-waste law of 2016“.

The infrastructure that makes the mechanism work is simple application where supermarkets enter the stock of unsold items, and employees can see them and then pick them up. And all at a lower cost to the state. Cecchi explains that “every day we throw away tons of food In excellent condition. Mostly unsold. And while that’s happening, there are millions of people in absolute or semi-absolute poverty who are reduced to having to give up one meal a day or worse. With food income, we can put an end to this nonsense. Unsold items can be given to those who need them, to those who do not arrive at the end of the month. By letting them have it directly in supermarkets and food stores, all with a certain anonymity”.

A queue in front of Pane Quotidiano vzw in Milan (Photo Ansa, 2021)

Food income, how much would it cost the state

But what is the reasoning behind the idea of ​​food income? Hunger and food poverty are also on the rise in Italy and a support measure, beyond citizenship income, is needed. Leonardo Cecchi, coordinator of the initiative, but also activist and social influencer of the Democratic Party, always explains that it is enough to have the political will to do it. A amendment to the next financial statementwith a not particularly expensive cost – 10 or 15 million euros – which is used to cover so-called logistical expenses, and the 200,000 tons of food waste that can only be found in supermarkets, can be directed to feed those who need it.

And to need it – in the critical years earlier for the pandemicThen for rising prices that Russia’s war against Ukraine causes – there are millions of families. The committee, from which the request for signatures emanates, provides some data: 5 million and 600 thousand people in poverty, 220,000 tonnes of food thrown away every year in supermarkets and hypermarkets alone. And so – relaunches Cecchi – by reorganizing the relationship between the third sector and the institutions, many problems can be solved.

Leonardo Cecchi, former social media manager and deputy head of national communications for the Democratic Party, created the food income tool

Food income, how to make the tool

Concretely, the State should identify the public as an intermediary Inps of all those fragile citizens and familieswho will be able to join the food income plan by registering on the application which will allow them to book food parcels, even if there will be citizens whose groceries will have to be delivered to their homes. It is the associations or the State with the public service, the municipalities that take care of it. Logistics partners need to be identified, but even putting the pieces together for this change of pace from both a waste and inclusion perspective is an achievable short-term goal. Shut up Cecchi:”Food income is a tool for social inclusion, not a handout. If I give a big food parcel to a cassintegrato, I make sure that he can free up a small part of his income.” The issue of food poverty cannot be ignored.

In Italy, according to Istat, just under one in 10 families live in absolute poverty (Photo Ansa)

Italy, just under 1 in 10 families live in absolute poverty

On the other hand, net of the increase in bills due to the war in Ukraine, the prices of raw materials, the surge in inflation and the constant loss of purchasing power of families, the number of Italian families living in absolute poverty unfortunately, it is destined to grow and, from this point of view, the “snapshot” that Istat takes, in 2022, of Italian poverty (2021 data) is obviously only destined to worsen.

In 2021, families in absolute poverty in Italy were 7.5%down slightly from 7.7% in 2020 for a number of individuals equal to approximately 5.6 million. According to Istat, about 5.6 million people live in absolute poverty (9.4% of the total, like last year). “Without the growth in consumer prices recorded in 2021 (+1.9%) – underlines the Institute – the incidence of absolute poverty would have been 7.0% at family level and 8.8% at family level. individual, therefore down slightly compared to 2020”. Data now doomed to experience a strong surge, due to the war and the resumption of inflation.

The substantial stability of absolute poverty for Italian families in 2021 is placed in the context of a “marked recovery” in consumer spending (on which the poverty indicator is based). According to preliminary estimates, in fact, the average monthly household expenditure residents in Italy is equal to €2,439 in current values, up 4.7% compared to the 2,328 euros of the previous year (+ 2.8% net of inflation), with obvious differences between the wealthiest families (+ 6.2% ) and the least well-off (+1.7%). This is a very marked growth, observes Istat, which does not however compensate for the collapse of 2020. Compared to the 2,560 euros in 2019, in fact, the average expenditure is still lower by 4.7%. Considering only the inflationary trend (+1.9% the change in the harmonized consumer price index, Ipca), growth in real terms compared to 2020 is more contained (+2.8%).

For Istat in 2021, the average monthly expenditure of Italian families was 2,439 euros, up 4.7% compared to 2020

Southern Italy, more than 1 in 10 families live in absolute poverty

In the Noon, underlines Istat, where poor people I am 195 thousand more than in 2020, the highest poverty rates are confirmed: 12.1% for individuals (instead of 11.1%), 10.0% for families. In the North, on the other hand, there is an improvement both at the family level (from 7.6% in 2020 to 6.7% in 2021) and at the individual level (from 9.3% to 8.2%). In 2021, there was also substantial stability in the incidence of poverty for different family types. There were signs of improvement for families with 2 members (from 5.7% to 5.0%) and 3 members (from 8.5% to 7.1%). But it is the presence of minor children that remains a factor that exposes families the most to precariousness: the incidence of absolute poverty is confirmed as high (11.5%) for families with at least one minor child and in the case of families formed for couples with 3 or more children, it is 20%. The percentage is significantly lower and equal to 5.5% among families with at least one elderly person (5.6% in 2020, a substantially stable value), confirming the role of economic protection that pension transfers play in the family . Also on the basis of these data, the idea of ​​food income would, in these times, be a relief and a concrete help to the poorest Italian families.

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