Dino Impagliazzo is a renowned chef in Rome — not just because his cooking is delicious, but because it serves a purpose. Impagliazzo is known as the "chef of the poor" because he prepares and delivers meals to the homeless.
The 90-year-old runs his own nonprofit, called RomAmoR, which distributes about 800 hot meals to people in need living in Rome, according to United World Project, an organization that connects charities across the globe. Impagliazzo was a retiree when he started this initiative in 2006 under the name "Quelli del quartiere," or "the neighborhood people."
He came up with the idea when he was walking through the Tuscolana train station in Rome and a man asked him for money, according to the RomAmoR website. Impagliazzo got to know the man, who was homeless, and learned that it was difficult for him to get food on Sundays, when homeless associations didn't provide free meals.
That's when Impagliazzo decided to do more than hand out some spare change.
"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," Impagliazzo said in an interview with Reuters.
He started bringing sandwiches to homeless and elderly people around the railway station on Sundays, and soon, RomAmoR was born.
At first, the meals were prepared in volunteers' houses. But as the association grew and more and more people got involved, RomAmoR acquired a bigger kitchen for volunteers to cook their free meals.
Impagliazzo gathers ingredients from food banks as well as donations from bakeries and grocery stores. The volunteers cook and deliver the meals to the Tuscolana and Ostiense train stations and St. Peter's Square, where they are handed out to the homeless.
Now, RomAmoR delivers food multiple times a week, not just on Sundays, according to its website. And while he's known as the "chef of the poor," Impagliazzo offers more than just food. RomAmoR has also started giving out blankets, clothing and hygiene products to those in need.
The organization has had about 300 volunteers pitch in to date, and has delivers about 32,000 meals annually, according to its website. For Impagliazzo, there's always room to grow.
"We try to involve more and more people so that Rome becomes a city where people can love each other, you know?" he told Reuters. "It's solidarity."