A portentous food drive in Bergamo. Cerea: we’re starting on Monday. Thanks for the help

Work in progress at the mega-field-hospital, offers of food for hundreds of meals per day are arriving from all around the world. Chicco Cerea: «We’ll take care of preparing them. We’re touched by the support we’ve received. Here’s how we will organise ou


The video, made seven days ago, with which Chicco Cerea launched the food drive to supply everything that was necessary to serve hundreds and hundreds of meals each day to doctors and patients from the new field hospital currently being installed in Bergamo. Da Vittorio’s team will run the canteen. The chef’s appeal was not in vain: all sorts of products are arriving, so much so that donations are currently put on hold because there’s no more space for the time being 

«We’re receiving mountains of food, it’s incredible, crazy. At this moment we even had to put donations on hold because even this situation needs to be handled well, we must take care of the logistics, which is what we’re planning to do in these hours... But we’re receiving all sorts of offers from everywhere: Qatar, Israel, Japan...». It’s been a week since Chicco Cerea and his family offered to make for free, with their team from Da Vittorio Vicook, all the meals, from breakfast to dinner, necessary for both patients and staff at work in the new field hospital currently being installed by the Associazione nazionale alpini inside the Fiera di Bergamo, pavilion B, to face the terrible Coronavirus emergency, which has hit Bergamo in a particularly serious way (see The Ambasciatori del Gusto Enrico and Roberto Cerea launch an appeal: help us with a food drive).

Seven days later, and after some halts, the go ahead is close: the floors have been placed, 6,500 square metres of linoleum. Now they’ll put walls, doors, ceilings, facilities what with panels and tents; dozens of blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, and many other artisans who offered to give a hand. Soon – at the beginning of next week – the largest structure of this kind in Europe should be ready to host 160 beds (but the numbers change almost hourly) for Covid-19 patients. The intensive and sub-intensive care wards - 12-14 places in the former, 24 in the latter – should be run by a team of doctors from Emergency, some twenty people, who will also be helped by colleagues who came from Russia.

Chicco Cerea explained a few days ago:

«We’re ready to give our full collaboration. With the team we have offered to cook for the healthcare personnel, the patients, the auxiliary staff, but we need raw materials. We ask for support and solidarity to all those who can offer help, from restaurants to shop owners to food factories and the like: please, help us. We need fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy products... We’ll cook for our heroes. For them we feel the need to collect food urgently so that we can also have the tins and frozen food necessary to make the dishes. I’ve already received the offer of salted cod, arancini and tomato sauce from Sicily, ravioli del plin. All this will be stocked in suitable rooms, divided into categories and used wisely so as to avoid deterioration and waste. We’re planning to optimise the efforts and sacrifices of everyone. Please, help us. Only together we can make it»

An appeal that wasn’t made in vain. Quite the contrary. Chicco told us: «We’re deeply saddened by what our hometown, Bergamo, where we were born, raised and where we started our activity, is going through and we’re close not only to the families that are facing this terrible moment, but also to the healthcare staff who are fighting in the frontline to save as many lives as possible. We immediately felt the urgency to contribute in some way and our call to action received immediate success. Many people have made themselves available and this makes us proud. We would like to thank each of them, I’ll mention here the large retail chains, Esselunga,ConadCoop and Marr. As I said, we now have to stop this flow, we have no more space. Later we’ll see how the situation will evolve».

How are you getting ready to face your task in the field hospital? «We will be around fifteen, what with the operations and the support in the office. We’ll start on Monday or Tuesday. At this moment work is still in progress». For how many people will you cook? At first it was meant to be for 500, which multiplied by three daily meals means 1,500, what with breakfast, lunch and dinner... «We have no detailed information. For sure we will have around 100 people among the doctors, nurses and auxiliaries, hence 150 meals. Then 60-70 patients, according to the latest information. But nobody can give us precise information, we’ll see as it goes».


«Doctors and patients will have different lines. The idea is that it’s not possible to create a classic self-service, but we must try to organise the entire chain in a single-use way. There are very strict safety protocols and we must also try to handle the special diets that patients need»

The organisation that the Cereas are giving themselves is everything but simple, «it’s the greatest difficulty», though they are used both to serving fine dining at Da Vittorio and large numbers what with starred caterings and school and corporate canteens, from Gucci to Pomellato and Intercos. A unique know how in Italy, which allows them to know very well what they need to do: «Doctors and patients will have different lines. The idea is that it’s not possible to create a classic self-service, but we must try to organise the entire chain in a single-use way, from the moment the products arrive, the storage, and then the preparation, cooking and arrival on the counter. The staff will prepare the dishes, the doctors will sit (alone, at tables for four) and eat, and at the end they will throw everything themselves, because the safety protocol is very strict». The same applies for the morning breakfast: coffee and cappuccino will be available in single-use cups, cakes will by packaged, and the same applies to jam, honey and muesli and the rest, but everything will be prepared in safety, «with masks and gloves».

Manging the patients’ meals will be even more complex, «we will use polibox containers to preserve the temperature of the dishes. And we will have personalised menus, based on their needs, because we have already been informed that many patients will need special diets, gluten free and so on». It’s not easy. This is why the Cerea are up to the task.

Intesa Sanpaolo donated 350K euros to Bergamo’s field hospital to buy ventilators, radiologic systems, testing lab apparel, monitors, aspirators, oxygen producers and other materials necessary for the healthcare activity. This help can be increased by further 100K euros thanks to a fundraising campaign for this specific project which is already active on www.forfunding.it, on the crowdfunding platform of Gruppo Intesa Sanpaolo, open to everyone until April 6th