New Donation Brings ‘Pizza for a Smile’ to Catholic Charities’ Clients

by Kate Kennedy | May 22, 2024

One thousand pizzas donated by local restaurants in collaboration with the nonprofit People of Hope will be given out to participants in Catholic Charities’ social service programs in the coming months, it was announced this week.

In a first distribution on May 21, 150 individual pizzas donated by the restaurants Il Canale and 90 Second Pizza were given out to those attending Catholic Charities’ St. Maria’s Meals service in downtown D.C. Through October, a total of 1,000 pizzas from the two restaurants will be distributed to people served by Catholic Charities.

“Many of the vulnerable people served by Catholic Charities’ social service programs are among those currently facing food insecurity,” President and CEO Jim Malloy told those gathered at Catholic Charities headquarters for a “Pizza for a Smile” kickoff. “That’s one reason why we were so pleased when The People of Hope approached us. We gratefully accepted this generous philanthropic offer to partner with us here in Washington as yet another opportunity to help our clients.”

Malloy thanked Luciano Lamonarca, president and CEO of The People of Hope, and Joe Farruggio, chef and owner of Il Canale and 90 Second Pizza, for their support. In response, Farruggio said, “It’s an honor that I could do this.”

Lamonarca shared how the idea for “Pizza for a Smile” originated with his young son. “We give a pizza and receive a smile in exchange,” he said.

Lamonarca was joined by Chris Bianco, chef-owner of restaurants in Los Angeles and Phoenix who serves as a spokesperson for the pizza initiative. “All the raindrops come together, and we can make some change,” said Bianco, who described his role in “Pizza for a Smile” as one of “a servant of God, a servant of good intentions.”

More than one-third of the residents of the Washington area report being food insecure or severely food insecure, according to the Capital Area Food Bank’s hunger survey.

“Believing that no one should go hungry, Catholic Charities helps ease the pain of hunger through seven food programs that serve people where they live,” Malloy said. In the last fiscal year, 3.75 million meals were distributed in D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and Southern Maryland.

Clients served by Catholic Charities’ Adult and Children Clinical Services and Developmental Disabilities Services will be among the recipients of individual margherita pizzas from May through October, as will some of the residents of the shelters operated by Catholic Charities.


“Pizza for a Smile” promotes kindness and smiles by honoring the dignity of those who are hungry. Launched in Los Angeles in November 2023, the initiative provides individual pizzas made fresh by local restaurants to those facing hunger through collaborations with community organizations.