Pandemic exposes the vulnerability of Italy’s ‘new poor’

Pandemic exposes the vulnerability of Italy’s ‘new poor’
Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: The Covid-19 pandemic did not produce Elena Simone’s first budgetary rough patch. The single mother, aged 49, found herself out of the job market when the 2008 financial crisis hit Italy and never fully got back in, but she created a patchwork of small jobs that provided for herself and the youngest of her three children. Thus, the pandemic exposes the vulnerability of Italy’s ‘new poor’.

That all changed with Italy’s first coronavirus lockdown in the spring.

With schools closed, Simone’s cafeteria job disappeared. Her housecleaning gigs dried up as well. While others returned to work when the Covid lockdown ended, Simone stayed frozen out.

“There was a period when I was only eating carrots,” she recalled from her kitchen.

Simone needed help for the first time in her life to put food on the table. At a friend’s urging, Simone enrolled for access to the food stores operated by Roman Catholic charity Caritas. Her eligibility covers her through January, and she is in risk to be off the charity rolls by then “to make room for people who need it even more.”

But between near-total spring lockdown in Italy, the introduction of a partial coronavirus lockdown when the virus surged again in the fall and the continued toll the notorious pandemic is taking on Italy’s economy, the slim threads that allowed people to weave together employment have snapped.

More than 40 organizations provide food on a daily basis in Italy’s financial capital Milan. Pane Quotidiano, One of the largest, serves some 3,500 meals a day, the vulnerability of Italy’s ‘new poor’ raising day by day.

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