February 28, 2024

In Italian City, New Market Seeks to Assist Families in Need

ADRA Italia is one of the organizations behind the initiative in Cesena, Emilia-Romagna.

Hope Media Italia, and Adventist Review
Inauguration ceremony of the new market for families in need in Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. ADRA Italia is one of the sponsoring organizations behind the initiative. [Photo: ADRA Italia]

The Haystack solidarity market (Il Barco in Italian) is finally a reality in Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

The market, which will cater to local families in need, was inaugurated on February 6 in temporary quarters at the local Pievesestina fruit and vegetable market, as organizers wait for the completion of permanent premises in the nearby town of Torre del Moro.

Waiting any longer meant postponing the possibility of helping families in vulnerable situations, leaders explained. The 210-square-meter (2,260-square-foot) emporium is, in fact, a real minimarket where customers can do their daily shopping, as well as finding a welcoming space for meeting and socializing. The market has also provided a place for storing goods.

Cesena mayor Enzo Lattuca attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, accompanied by the councilor for Personal and Family Services, Carmelina Labruzzo. Also present were representatives of social services and volunteering.

The solidarity market is managed by the “Il Barco Odv” association, officially established at the end of July 2022 by several nonprofits: Auser, the Italian Red Cross, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Italia, San Vincenzo de Paoli, Mater Caritas, Campo Emmaus, the Life Help Center, and Arci Solidarietà.

With the birth of this association, “the Cesena solidarity network will be significantly strengthened,” Labruzzo said. She also highlighted the choice of the name “barco” (“haystack,” namely, “a sheaf or heap of fodder” in the regional dialect), which places the emphasis on working together, investing energy and resources, with the aim of supporting socially and economically vulnerable people.

The solidarity market will offer goods and services to families and will accompany them on a path to economic independence, organizations behind the initiative said.

“For me, this day is the beginning of a project that we have been working on since 2020,” said Ugo Zanolar, vice president of the Il Barco Odv association and ADRA volunteer, after the inauguration. “But this is just a start.

“Now we must work to do what we had decided to do. I lived this period of preparation with people whom I called ‘the ants,’ people who gave themselves fully. When we needed them, they were available,” Zanolar said. “For me, it was something wonderful. I made a lot of acquaintances. I didn’t live in Italy, and today I created a network of friends.... It’s a wonderful project.”

Someone has defined the special supermarket as “an evolution of the food parcel distribution service” by associations to families in need. Unlike other similar services, it allows people to choose items according to their needs.

Organizations behind the initiative announced that initially, the market will offer its service to 100 families, who will be able to purchase food and household and personal care products using a card with a credit in points, according to a maximum limit that can be spent in four weeks. About 10 volunteers will take turns at the shop three days a week.

In addition to the contributions by the entities funding the initiative, the shelves will also be stocked by donations from local companies and the recovery of unsold products, thus helping to reduce food waste.

The original version of this story was posted by Hope Media Italia.