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Italian cooperatives fight organised crime with organic food boxes

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Italian cooperatives fight organised crime with organic food boxes
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Daniela De Lorenzo
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An Italian cooperative consortium is shipping organic food boxes to fight against criminal organisations in the region of Campania in southern Italy.

The Nuova Cooperativa Organizzata (New Organised Cooperative, NCO) is made up of around twenty social cooperatives that give their employees work harvesting their lands as well as housing and medical support since many belong to communities struggling to integrate. The facilities they manage are part of those confiscated from the regional criminal organisation Camorra. Their land is farmed organically and the fruits, vegetables and cereals produced are used to make pasta, jams and pasta sauces for sale. The project caught the attention of a Brussels-based organisation founded by Italians expats.

Daniela De Lorenzo
What’s inside the Pacco alla Camorra: organic pasta, pasta sauce, jam and a bottle of wine.Daniela De Lorenzo

According to statistics from ANBSC (the Italian National Agency for the Administration and Destination of Assets Confiscated from Organised Crime), there are over 65,000 properties including lands, companies, buildings and constructions sites that have been confiscated from criminal organisations across Italy. After their confiscation, money garnered from these properties can be used to fund social initiatives.

NCO aims at contributing to a civil growth of the territory, by creating economic activities and reintegrating areas previously under the control of Camorra through their assets.

After applying to receive some of Camorra’s lands, the NCO consortium created the “Box to Camorra” project, which involved selling parcels containing organic pasta, wine, jam and pasta sauce produced by the different cooperatives for 25 €.

The project came to Brussels in November 2017 thanks to Franco Ianniello who through his NGO “Cultura Contro Camorra” (Culture Against Camorra, CCC) decided to broaden this initiative in order to support those fighting against criminal organisations: “Organised crime is not just an Italian problem, but a European plague,” he said.

Daniela De Lorenzo
Pietro Lunetto and Francesco Iannello with Pacco alla Camorra.Daniela De Lorenzo

In one year, with the help of Pietro Lunetto who works as a senior scientist and belongs to various social associations, CCC managed to distribute over 500 boxes in Brussels.

“It’s mainly done by word of mouth, through the use of flyers at events and personal mailing lists,” said Lunetto.

In the beginning, customers would need to show up at Ianniello’s or Lunetto’s house, to pick up the parcels delivered to their address. “For us, it is a political and social activity, not a commercial one, as we do not take any percentage on it,” said Ianniello.

Now, however, it is also possible to find the “box to Camorra” at Miranda, an Italian restaurant owned by two siblings who decided to make their restaurant a pick-up point.

Ianniello wants to extend the initiative beyond Brussels. “It is important that organisations that work in the same field make a network,” stressed Ianniello.

Through a Paris-based organisation fighting organised crime, CCC is now looking at the potential to make France the next shipping destination.