The Alimenta was a welfare program for poor children and Orphans. Credit for designing the program is usually attributed to Nerva, but it was increased and formally organized under Trajan. In a strange twist of parallel evolution, the Chinese emperor Wang Mang instituted a similar reform several decades earlier. The Alimenta was funded from several sources. Probably, money from the Dacian Wars was used to initially underwrite the program; however, the long-term existence of the program was insured through 5% interest paid by wealthy landowners on loans and estate taxes. Philanthropy was also encouraged and contributed to the total funding.
Under Alimenta, Boys of freemen received 16 sesterces monthly, girls received 12, while children borne out of wedlock received a bit less.1 The Alimenta was supplemented with a special young girls foundation initiated by Antoninus Pius in honor of his deceased wife faustina. Municipal magistrates administered the alimentary funds and in turn were supervised by imperial clerks who had the status of knights.The denarius pictured above is a wonderful piece of art and propaganda. The personification of Abundance points left to the future with the young child holding his left hand over his stomach. A very historic and moving issue. Variants of the reverse image have Abundance holding the child's hand and the two figures looking directly at each other.