In the month of November 2023 Malta’s Archbishop Charles Scicluna inaugurated Il-Kċina ta’ Marta (Marta’s Kitchen). The latter is the most recent initiative which the Church in Malta has planned to reach out to those who are struggling with life. In fact, since the start of 2023, il-Kċina ta’ Marta has provided some 50,000 meals.
Presently, about 350 people are receiving the 1,200 which are lovingly prepared by the 30 volunteers of Il-Kċina ta’ Marta at the Archbishop’s Seminary in Tal-Virtù. An additional 20 volunteers have also volunteered to take these meals at the homes of those who are housebound. Il-Kċina ta’ Marta is led by LOOP Parish Diaconia in close collaboration with The Alfred Mizzi Foundation.
The soup kitchen provides meals to people who either are unable to cook or who are in need of temporary support as referred by professionals in the community like parish priests, social workers and health workers. “Food brings people together but also fosters social interaction and community building,” the archbishop said, while adding that the soup kitchen provides meals to other parishes as well as communities that are spread throughout Malta.
As it has been said already, from the beginning of this year, Il-Kċina ta’ Marta has provided 50,000 meals. Thanks to benefactors and the great commitment of volunteers, the cost of the food is reduced by 80%. Furthemore, the remaining costs are covered thanks to donations gathered by parishes or provided directly by the generous public. It has been calculated that a donation of €30 covers the cost of a daily meal for a person for a whole month.
While visiting Il-Kċina ta’ Marta, the Archbishop observed, “Il-Kċina ta’ Marta is a sign of hope for those who are currently, for one reason or another, experiencing a moment of darkness.” This hope is being incarnated by volunteers and benefactors alike who are generously answering to Jesus’ invitation when He said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink’. As Christmas is practically on our doorsteps, Archbishop Scicluna appealed to all those for whom this period is replete with meals and celebrations to generously remember the poor who cannot even enjoy one single daily meal and to think of making a small donation to Il-Kċina ta’ Marta.
Speaking on behalf of The Alfred Mizzi Foundation, Julian Sammut stated that Il-Kċina ta’ Marta is the successor to the free meals generously by Caritas Malta and The Alfred Mizzi Foundation at the time of the pandemic. Moreover, Sammut explained that for Il-Kċina ta’ Marta to keep offering food with dignity, the foundation donated a van particularly furnished to distribute meals where they were needed. Sammut also emphasized that The Alfred Mizzi Foundation gives its support with over 100,000 meals annually, involving meals for Dar Papa Franġisku, Il-Kċina ta’ Marta, and other soup kitchens and food banks located in Malta.
On the other hand, Mgr Charles Cordina, the Episcopal Vicar for Diaconia of the Archdiocese of Malta, explained that during the year, around 1,300 families benefit from the assistance from the parishes in Malta through the work of diaconia. He said: “Il-Kċina ta’ Marta further strengthens this service because now the Church can provide nutritious food with dignity even to those who cannot leave their homes. Additionally, through this service, many more members of our communities are actively contributing to ensure nobody in society is left behind. A parish becomes stronger when its members play an active role in its work, especially with those in need.”
The free meals distributed by the Love Kitchen of the Millenium Chapel and by the Qawra Parish are also cooked and prepared by Il-Kċina ta’ Marta. Furthermore, the volunteers of Il-Kċina ta’ Marta will be giving food for another Church soup kitchen which will commence offering its service in the evening in Ħal Balzan in the coming weeks. Those who feel they can support Il-Kċina ta’ Marta can do so by sending their donation at loop.mt. Anyone wishing to become a volunteer or benefactor is invited to visit Loop’s website.
LOOP Parish Diaconia is the result of planned efforts between parish priests as well as volunteers from the 70 parishes of the Archdiocese of Malta. The principal objectives of LOOP Parish Diaconia are to address basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter for those who are struggling in difficult situations; to provide a wide platform for the community to contribute towards helping the needy; and to raise funds for the parishes so that they can support people in need and their aspiration to be active members of society.
All this work is magnificently done in collaboration with professionals from the social field hailing from six Church entities, especially, the Millennium Chapel, St Jeanne Antide Foundation, Caritas Malta Foundation, Paulo Freire Institute, the Secretariat for Social Assistance and Fondazzjoni Sebħ.
This holy initiative undertaken by the Archdiocese of Malta is a direct answer to what Pope Francis suggests to us in his message for the 2023 World Day of the Poor when he tells us:
May our concern for the poor always be marked by Gospel realism. Our sharing should meet the concrete needs of the other, rather than being just a means of ridding ourselves of superfluous goods. Here too, Spirit-led discernment is demanded, in order to recognize the genuine needs of our brothers and sisters and not our own personal hopes and aspirations. What the poor need is certainly our humanity, our hearts open to love. Let us never forget that “we are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them” (Evangelii Gaudium, 198). Faith teaches us that every poor person is a son or daughter of God and that Christ is present in them. “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40) (no.9).
Be a protagonist too in your diocese by suggesting and actively participating in such life-giving endeavours like Il-Kċina ta’ Marta, a kitchen for the poor and the most needy of our times.