Ivana Martino ran nine hundred kilometers to say no to food poverty in Europe. The heroic endeavor of the 44-year-old Italian woman, who is a graduate in sociology and a runner for passion, consisted in covering the distance that separates Milan from Brussels in twelve days. Sweat and will, despite the fatigue and the rain that accompanied her all along the marathon towards the European capital. A slap in the face of those who think that sports rhymes only with business.
Gianni Pittella, President of the S & D Group in the European Parliament, was among those who welcomed her at the finish line. “Thank you, Ivana – he said – for your huge effort. We assure you that it is going to have a follow-up: we guarantee that the meaning of your endeavor will reach the European institutions.” In fact, the message Ivana, Barilla and the campaign #werun4kids want to convey is very simple: poverty is a major European problem, which threatens the little ones in the first place. Without access to adequate food, proper nutrition, and education necessary for their development, millions of children live in a condition of food poverty that manifests itself in malnutrition or obesity.
In 2014, 27.8% of children in Europe were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In some of the Member States, their percentage reached almost 40%. In its report “Fairness for Children”, UNICEF showed that unhealthy eating has become a disturbing trend among children. Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey, have been listed as countries where this trend has worsened since 2002 and where many people are struggling to feed themselves in a healthy and nutritious way. “This situation concerns thousands of European families who live in our communities,” said the runner. “We are leaving our children to their own devices. With enough sentiment and will, we can achieve great things. I know it, because along my journey I met organizations and individuals who make extraordinary things for the needy.”
In the coming months, Barilla (which supported Martino’s initiative) will launch a social campaign in Belgium to pay tribute to all those people who, with food-related projects, are doing an extraordinary job to improve people’s lives. “We are proud to work with her,” says Paolo Barilla, Vice-President of the Barilla Group. “When Ivana had turned to us, we immediately realized that her goal was also ours: give all children the food we would give our own children.”
After her arrival to Brussels, Ivana met with the representatives of the European Commission, Parliament and Council, as well as with members of the Belgian government. Di Martino’s run will directly help Italian, French, and Belgian food banks, as part of the European Federation of Food Banks. Barilla’s support allowed Di Martino to amplify the impact of her action, bring together the efforts of these national food banks and unite them with other organizations committed to fighting food poverty. The right mix between sport and corporate social responsibility. An experience that should become an example to all of us.