According to 2020 data, in Italy about 5.6 million people live in absolute poverty and about 8 million in relative poverty. In Northern Italy, the worst figure.
Every month, COOPI helps a growing number of families and elderly people in difficulty, in Milan and Varese, by distributing food, but also baby products and basic necessities. This activity is carried out within the project "Fighting poverty in Italy", mainly financed by the organisation, with the funds of the 5x1000.
The families benefiting from this service have increased exponentially, due to the socio-economic effects of Covid-19: in March 2020, there were 140 families and in September 2021 there were 400, for a total of more than 1,200 people. Lonely elderly people represent the most significant increase.
The identification of families is achieved through the social services of the municipality and through a home visit by COOPI staff. However, the organisation operates in a network and has continuous exchanges with the actors of the QuBì programme, promoted by the Municipality of Milan, to monitor the state of need.
A part of the food is provided by Banco Alimentare (an Italian national food bank network) and is delivered at home, if the elderly person or the family is in great difficulty. As of September 2021, distribution takes place mainly in Piazza Selinunte, a space assigned to COOPI by the "Luci a San Siro" project (promoted by ALER, in collaboration with the Politecnico and the Municipality of Milan).
The project "Fighting poverty in Italy" is a continuation of the work that Father Vincenzo Barbieri, founder of COOPI, carried out personally since 1999 in the Milan area and that the organisation took over, the day after his death, with the help of volunteers and a full-time operator to coordinate all the activities.
Daniel De La Traba, the project's operator, says: "Delivering a bag of food is the first step in cultivating a relationship with people and bringing to light difficulties and critical issues in the neighbourhood that would otherwise go unanswered. Even small actions can really make a difference in a person's life".
In Lombardy, almost two out of every hundred people are forced to live on just over €400 per month, and Milan is the province where the situation is most critical: there are more than 45,000 families in need of support. In 2020 only, COOPI distributed 35 tonnes of food.