Bernaschi, Daniela (1); Leonardi, Laura (2) (2017). 'Food insecurity, capabilities and the role of civil society: the empowering approach of Caritas’ Emporium of Solidarity in Rome' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.


In Europe, the increase in poverty, social exclusion and food insecurity rates have led to the flourishing of resilient civil society initiatives which work towards a more democratic and sustainable food system: e.g. food banks, soup kitchens, solidarity purchase groups, urban agriculture, emporiums of solidarity.

This paper envisages enhancing theoretical and practical understanding of the role of civil society organizations in fostering human Capabilities. With this in mind, it focuses on Caritas’ Emporiums of Solidarity in Rome. This research is part of a comparative analysis in other urban areas in Spain and Greece.

This paper has three aims. Its first objective is to analyse food insecurity in Europe. Capability Approach by Amartya Sen provides the evaluative space from which we start the analysis. A key assumption is that food security is a multidimensional concept, it entails different forms of deprivation and affects both developed and developing countries.

The second aim of this paper is to convey the growing civic engagement in addressing everyday needs and concerns, driven by awareness and shared responsibilities toward society. A particular attention is devoted to constraints and opportunity coming from institutional contexts.

Lastly, this paper will address the role played by Caritas’ Emporium of Solidarity in fostering the agency of beneficiaries and their Capabilities.


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