Lifestyle & Human Interest

Small-Town Baker Makes Big Impact with 'Peace Bread' Fundraiser for Ukrainian Refugees


Every person is unique in his or her gifts, and when people tap into those strengths to help others, a beautiful and creative variety of charitable outreaches are born.

For Matteo Cunsolo, that was through baking. Cunsolo hails from Parabiago, a small town near Milan in Italy, and when he saw the horrors unfolding in Ukraine, he wanted to help — but he wasn’t quite sure how at first.

But then he saw something on television that stirred him: Ukrainian refugees pouring into Poland, welcomed from their journeying at the border with warm drinks — and bread, a life-giving staple.

“When I heard the word ‘bread’ I thought — ‘OK I am a baker, what can I do to help?'” Cunsolo told The Associated Press.

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So he came up with “Peace Bread,” a bread dyed blue with blue butterfly pea flower powder and yellow with saffron — the colors of the Ukrainian flag — and featuring the word “Peace” stenciled on the outside in a butter-based spray.

The bread is being offered at his bakery, La Panetteria.

Cunsolo has donated money made on the sale of this bread to the Lions Clubs International Foundation, which is working to support refugees from Ukraine. So far he’s raised around $2,214.

“Bread accompanies and unites people,” he posted on Facebook. “For this reason, we at La Panetteria, hope that the bread with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, will bring a message of peace on the tables of the families supporting the victims of this war.

“At this moment we believe that each of us will do what we can to express closeness and solidarity with the Ukrainian people. ‘Bread for Peace’ represents a drop in helping people affected by this conflict.

“We make bread and try to put what we can to show solidarity and help raise funds to assist children and their families. We hope that this message of peace, through bread, spreads in your homes and families.”

The bakery puts out 44 pounds of the specialty bread every day — but Cunsolo has gone beyond that after rallying local donors and fellow bakers.

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In an effort to help refugees arriving in Italy, they have gathered basics such as diapers and food — and Cunsolo and his baker friends have again drawn on their strengths to offer something extra.

“After running away from the bombs, perhaps traveling 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.

And to that end, they prepared over 1,300 pounds of cookies, hoping they will give refugees a brief respite and a small moment of joy.

As Cunsolo continues in his efforts to aid refugees however he can, he urges others to also look for any ways they can help.

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