Volunteers to distribute a specially prepared menu including a double cheeseburger

While the controversial opening of a McDonald’s near the Vatican may not have all local residents singing “I’m lovin’ it”, the popular fast food chain is trying to do its part in the neighbourhood by helping the poor and the hungry.

Medicina Solidale (“Solidarity Medicine”) announced that it is joining forces with McDonald’s and the papal almoner’s office, which gives the pope’s charitable aid to the homeless around the Vatican, to distribute 1,000 meals to poor men and women who often find shelter in and around St Peter’s Basilica.

Starting on January 16, volunteers from the charitable organisation will distribute a specially prepared menu for the poor. It includes a double cheeseburger, fresh apple slices and a bottle of water.

Lucia Ercoli, director of Medicina Solidale, said that the organisation plans to distribute 100 meals a week for 10 consecutive Mondays. The programme, she added, is “the beginning of a dialogue” with McDonald’s to expand in the future.

“It is truly a small drop in an ocean of things being done by so many other associations, by so many people who spend their time helping others,” Ercoli said in an interview with Vatican Radio.

In a statement announcing the deal, Ercoli noted that the fast food chain “quickly responded” to the proposal “to donate meals to those who live on the streets in the area of St Peter’s”.

Noting her organisation’s long-standing collaboration with the papal almoner in providing medical care for the homeless, Ercoli said the new agreement would ensure that the poor are also provided with some much-needed nutrition.

“With these meals, we’ll make a significant leap in providing so many women and men who live on the street in this neighbourhood the possibility of a meal that will guarantee a suitable intake of proteins and vitamins for them,” she said.