Pope buys quake-zone produce to help farmers, donates food

Pope Francis's chief alms-giver is on a shopping spree in quake-struck central Italy, buying up prosciutto, cheese and local produce from struggling local businesses and donating the bounty to Roman soup kitchens.

The Vatican said Monsignor Konrad Krajewski's expedition Thursday was a concrete gesture of Francis' belief that "when you can't earn a living you lose your dignity."

The Vatican released photos of Krajewski visiting local prosciutto makers and buying up rounds of cheese and other typical produce. The region is known for its lentils.

Central Italy has been rocked by a series of powerful earthquakes that have driven thousands of people from their homes and devastated the local economy. Italian farm association Coldiretti has estimated damage to the agricultural sector alone of at least 52 million euros ($55 million).