Milan's first 'social market' opens

Milan’s first “social market” for families in economic difficulty has opened in Via Leoncavallo.

Housed in a building confiscated from the Mafia, the supermarket offers food and household products at a strong discount, or even free of charge for residents with low or no earnings and in the care of the city’s social services department.

The initiative follows in the footsteps of a similar idea in Turin, and was organised jointly by city hall and the volunteer association Terza Settimana. It has won the contribution of the Mike Buongiorno Foundation, set up by the late popular TV presenter, which donated a van for delivering products to the very poor and the disabled. A number of other organisations have sponsored the initiative, from MilanoRistorazione, which has provided a fridge room for fruit and vegetables; carpenter’s workshop Esse 81, who supplied the furnishing; supermarket chain IPER La Grande, supplying goods at cost; and wholesaler Torino Ortobra, providing free fruit and vegetables. 

Among the 30 volunteers are the lawyers and staff of the Milan legal studio Clifford Chance, who have offered to work shifts on two Mondays per month. All of this in a building where less than 10 years ago criminals were organising the drugs trade between Palermo and Milan, and which has been made available by the city administration. Terza Settimana welcomes more volunteers to help run the social market: contact them at info@terzasettimana.org.

The supermarket is not open to the public: access for families with low or zero income is organised by the city social services department or via associations or parish counsellors taking part in the initiative. User contributions can range from the full (but discounted) price to nothing, according to their needs.