Progetto Arca has food trucks set up in 29 cities, bringing 1.5 million meals to the homeless each year.
A food truck with the express purpose of bringing meals to the homeless has arrived at the Vatican. The new venture comes as part of an effort by Progetto Arca, an Italy-based non-profit that has been working with the homeless for 27 years.
Italian news outlet ACI Stampa reports that Progetto Arca began running food trucks during the world pandemic. Alberto Sinagallia, president of Progetto Arca, said in an interview that the agency was informed that there were some on the streets who had not eaten in as many as four days.
In response, they outfitted a truck with a stove, an oven, and tea kettles and took it on the road. Now, their trucks are active four days a week, distributing some 450 hot meals per day. Sinagallia said:
“For us this is a place of dignity, here they can choose the first, second, dessert and even breakfast the next day. It’s like being at the bar! They feel pampered. For us, relationship is the key word, for those who wish it can then continue a journey for us.” He added, “We are like crutches for rehabilitation, we do not replace them, but when someone needs a crutch to lean on, we are there.”
At the Vatican, the truck will cater to the large number of homeless who sleep on the streets around St. Peter’s Basilica. It will supplement efforts by the Vatican to help the homeless in recent years, such as the public bathrooms and showers that Pope Francis introduced.
Michela Ottavi, who leads the Roman branch of Progetto Arca, told ACI Stampa:
Progetto Arca’s goal is, “to immediately give the dignity of a home to the homeless, to allow this direct transition, a home. Then there is a path of re-insertion [into society], but first, I repeat, a home.”
Catholic World Report notes that Italy has an estimated 51,000 homeless, with 23% based in Rome. The world pandemic has not helped the situation, with many more falling into poverty within the last two years. Since 2020, the demand for meal programs like the Progetto Arca food truck has risen by 114%.
Progetto Arca currently runs two such food trucks in Rome, in the districts of San Pietro and Cassia. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as they have similar efforts active in 29 Italian cities. They currently have plans to open a new truck in Naples. In the last year, Progetto Arca estimates that they have served around 1.5 million meals to those in need.
All the food trucks and various efforts of Progetto Arca are run by volunteers and supported by the Food Bank of Lombardy. This institution donated 372 tons of food to Progetto Arca in 2021 alone. In addition to preparing daily meals, the non-profit also sends food packages to families experiencing serious economic difficulty.
Visit Progetto Arca to learn more about their charitable efforts and how you can get involved.