Via Leodoino, 9 41121 Modena, Italy
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Refettorio Ghirlandina was launched in December 2016 in partnership with Fondazione Auxilium. The dinner service opens its doors every Monday evening to 70 guests in need from the local community who can now count on a weekly evening of good food and welcoming conviviality.
Home to Food for Soul’s headquarters, Modena seemed the perfect location. Thanks to our partnership with the Fondazione Auxilium, which has been operating in Modena since the 1970s offering lunch services at reasonable prices to students and local workers, we have been able to create a welcoming space shaped on the needs of the local community.
On top of the normal lunch service, the self-service canteen operated by the Fondazione Auxilium is now open every Monday night to welcome guests who are either homeless or living in situations of social vulnerability and offer them a delicious and healthy three-course meal, made with surplus ingredients and unsold produce donated by vendors from Modena’s historic market. The dishes are prepared by local chefs, who put their skills and creativity at the service of our diners, and served by a dedicated team of volunteers from the community.
Refettorio Ghirlandina is located in an old chapel in the centre of Modena; the space was renovated to host the dining area, while the walls have been painted with wonderful black and white frescos realised by two young local artists, Luca Zamoc and Luca Lattuga. The artwork shows the myth of Saint Geminianus, the protector of Modena, who hid the town from Attila the Hun by shielding it with a dense blanket of fog. The fresco is both a tribute to the history of Modena and to the local community and a way to valorise a space that once was abandoned and give it a new life and purpose.
A year after the official opening, the dinner service offered by Refettorio Ghirlandina has become a weekly appointment for the guests to enjoy a shared meal together, socialise and feel at ease. The space has also given local chefs and volunteers the opportunity to find out more about their community and to rediscover the power of hospitality and conviviality.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the project has been providing meals in the community, door to door serving those most socially vulnerable and front line workers. This past week marked the first occasion with important safety protocols to welcome these guests inside the Refettorio courtyard and dining room.