The Borgo Pio branch of McDonald’s – just a double-arched throw from Vatican City – affectionately referred to as the McVatican, is working with Medicina Solidale, a charitable organization providing free meals and medical care to the homeless. Through their joint efforts, McDonald’s plans to give the homeless thousands of free meals. Lucia Ercoli, head of Medicina Solidale, confirmed that McD’s accepted the proposed joint efforts without delay.
Beginning on Monday, January 16th, 1,000 meals are making their way to the homeless every Monday for the next six months, although they may need to be transported since there aren’t many homeless so close to the Vatican. The meals will be taken to local health clinics and distributed to people there. This came about beginning with Pope Francis’ concern over the especially cold winter and how it must be impacting those living on the streets. For the McVatican, it seems like a great move, and though many at the Holy See are not happy about the fast-food joint so close by, they are not averse to the monthly rent they receive of €30,000.
It’s all good so far, but according to the Guardian, there are some groups that didn’t like the idea of commercial enterprises being brought into the area and are pointing fingers saying this is all just a PR stunt to make them look better with locals. It might be nice, though, if those against it actually learned what is happening. They claimed McDonald’s wouldn’t long tolerate having the homeless in their location … but, they won’t be there anyway.
The meals include an apple, water, and a double cheeseburger. One of the first week’s recipients, Pierfrancesco Spiga, a native of Rome who is homeless and unemployed, was grateful and admonished other large companies to follow suit: “It would be good if these multinational companies gave food at the end of the day to poor people who don’t have any, instead of throwing it away.”
Sometimes organizations have to look at their charitable actions and recognize that not everyone will treat it kindly in the beginning. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still lasting value. It’s worth it. When people are out in the cold and not able to get enough protein and calories to withstand the elements, it’s time to act, even if naysayers decide to heckle. Even if McD’s motivations are somewhat commercial, they’ll still be doing good and setting a standard. So maybe it is time for others to step up and do some good as well.
Pope Francis remains committed to feeding the homeless in Rome, celebrating his 80th birthday in December by sharing breakfast with the homeless, and earlier in the year he sponsored a pizza party for the homeless as they celebrated the sainthood of Mother Teresa.