Pope Francis is sending half a ton of food to families suffering hardships in Rome’s Tor Bella Monaca neighborhood. The food is being distributed through the Institute of Medicine Solidarity Onlus, which works to help the socially disadvantaged, reported AICA, a Catholic news publication in Argentina. Lucia Ercoli, the association’s director, said it was “truly a surprise” when they received the phone call about the food delivery for the poorest families in the neighborhood. The Pope was in the neighborhood on March 8 for his visit to the parish of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore. The Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, was scheduled to deliver the food March 21. “Ten days after his visit to Tor Bella Monaca he wanted to send a sign of his closeness to those who are going through hard times,” Ercoli said, adding “the Pope has not forgotten about us.” Ercoli said she is confident that Pope Francis, by making “these gestures of mercy,” has “given a foretaste of the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.” She added: “we give him heartfelt thanks for giving hope to so many people who are suffering and marginalized.” The most vulnerable segments of society have particularly suffered the consequences of the economic crisis in the European Union.