A small bakery in northern Italy is trying to do its part to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.
Baker Matteo Cunsolo is making and selling “peace bread” in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, with proceeds going to a charitable fund helping refugees who cross into Italy or who are remaining in Ukraine.
In addition, Cunsolo and area bakers have made 600 kilograms (1,325 pounds) of cookies to give out to young refugees. He plans to bring the sweets, along with a truck full of locally donated diapers, food, medicine and clothes, to the Ukrainian-Polish border next week.
“After running away from the bombs, perhaps travelling across forests by night in the cold, I think a cookie is like a little cuddle that can help bring a smile on a child's face,” he said, standing in front of his industrial-sized oven at La Panetteria in Parabiago, near Milan.
Cunsolo said he got the idea to bake after watching a TV report about the reception Ukrainians were receiving at the Polish border: They were given something warm to drink and a piece of bread.
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“When I heard the word bread I thought – ‘OK I am a baker, what can I do to help?’”
He uses natural food coloring to make the bread: saffron to color the dough yellow, and an infusion made from the leaves of the blue butterfly pea flower, or clitoria ternatea, to get the blue. Once baked, he uses a butter-based spray and a “PEACE” stencil to decorate each loaf.
“It’s a really important initiative,” said customer Maria Pascolin as she shopped at the bakery. “It’s a drop in the ocean, but if we all gave a contribution, it would help.”
Cunsolo is making about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of “peace bread” per day, and so far has raised more than 2,000 euros ($2,214) for the local Lion's Club charity drive.
“I believe in trying to help others in any way you can,” he said.