Dino Impagilazzo is living out his dream of feeding the homeless. Nicknamed “chef of the poor,” the 90-year-old Italian launched his mission 15 years ago in Rome after a homeless man outside one of the city’s train stations asked him for some money to buy a sandwich.
Impagilazzo founded RomAmoR (RomeLove), which went from making sandwiches for the homeless to cooking and serving hot meals throughout Rome.
“I realized that perhaps instead of buying one sandwich, making some sandwiches for him and for the friends who were there would be better, and thus began our adventure,” he said.
Retired from Italy’s social security department, Impagilazzo began his mission with a few other pensioners out of his own home before moving it to a convent. Today, Impagilazzo and volunteers cook the food to feed the homeless in their own fully equipped kitchen.
Three days a week, Impagilazzo and volunteers collect contributions from local markets, bakeries and other retailers to help the cause, while the remaining four days are spent in the kitchen preparing and cooking meals.
“We try to involve more and more people so that Rome becomes a city where people can love each other, you know?,” he said. “It’s solidarity.”
RomAmoR, which is now made up of 300 volunteers, serves hot meals near train stations and in St. Peter’s Square—near where Pope Francis opened medical and bathing facilities—on Saturday nights to help feed the growing number of homeless people in Rome.
Recognized as a “hero of our times,” Impagliazzo received an award from President Sergio Mattarella for his successful initiative, which has brought such good will.