The Victory Kitchen sign rediscovered during works on the façade of a Valletta building seven years ago is being restored to its original colour scheme. The red, white and dark blue sign, once so familiar to people who queued for food during World War II, now serves as respectful memory of those difficult times.
About seven years ago, the sign had been rediscovered during works on the building in Melita Street that then housed a clothes shop called Kishna. Last year, the shop closed down and the premises is being refurbished into a Clarks shoe shop outlet. The planning permit conditions for the new shop lay down that the sign is to be safeguarded.
"It's impressive how many people stopped to ask about the future of the sign when we started works on the new shop," owner Robert Pace said. "So I took on the responsibility to restore the sign and works are being carried out by the Restoration Unit. I also plan to light it up so people can see it at night," he said.
While the restoration works were practically complete, he said, he was now considering covering the sign in glass or Perspex and attaching a plaque detailing the history of the Victory Kitchen. However, such plans were subject to consultation with his architect and Mepa permits.
When the Victory Kitchen sign had been unearthed, so had memories of those who remembered queuing for food outside the building during the war. At the time, war veterans had recounted their memories of the kitchen.
As the system went, on Thursdays each family was issued with a booklet of tickets for each family member for the coming week. The typical menu included goat's meat with tomato sauce and a couple of beans.
In the book Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, author Philip Vella wrote that in June 1942 there were 42 Victory Kitchens in Malta.
The number of people drawing meals had soared to 175,536 in the first week of January 1943. Penalties for stealing food were harsh: four months in prison for stealing a couple of slices of bread!
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