Social entrepreneurship can offer solutions to many social problems or at least limit them. Food On is a non-governmental organization whose vision is to help unemployed, socially and professionally excluded people, as well as people currently living in destitution, to regain their lives and make it easier for them to cope with daily difficulties. Argiris Zannias, founder of Food On, told CEOWORLD magazine how a personal experience inspired him to found the non-governmental organization and reveals his plans for the future, always with a better society for all in mind. .
Q: Food On started in 2017. What was the motivation for its operation and how many people has it helped so far?
Argiris Zannias: The inspiration to create “Food On” was born during my early childhood. I come from a single parent family, who had to deal with financial hardship as well as the social stigma that a sole provider parent, like mine, faced at the time.
This defining period of my life became a catalyst for me to mature quickly and begin to experience the world from a totally different perspective.
With the help of “Food On”, 5852 people in Attica were helped. The vision of our organization is a society without social exclusion, which gives everyone the same opportunities to live in dignity and independence.
Q: Can you describe your project and how do you cover your expenses?
Argiris Zannias: Through an inclusive and free program, the “Food On” model offers the opportunity for unemployed, socially and professionally excluded people, as well as people currently living in destitution, to connect with professionals and train to working in the tourism and food industry, participate in the Social Dining events organized by “Food On” – to get to know and interact with people from different social groups and finally meet their daily nutritional needs. Things we take for granted but are not given for so many of us.
In a different location each time, “Food On” hosts pop-up restaurants. Where a group of stereotype-free strangers from diverse social backgrounds eat delicious meals at the same table, create happy memories, share stories and emotions. Many people live in poverty, but it’s not necessarily something they share in public. After all, the intimate component of being open and sharing mutual feelings of compassion is what makes dining with people such a special and unique experience. This is the “Food On” social dinner, a party aimed at the social mixing of participants, creating conditions that can be the instrument of a new beginning for those who need it most.
Part of our mission is also the recovery and integration of our fellow human beings living in poverty into society, by offering educational and solidarity activities. Our organization relies on funding from private donations, individual contributions and CSR initiatives from private parties.
Q: Has the Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on your activity and work? Was there a greater need to offer to the community?
Argiris Zannias: The pandemic has forced us to suspend our humanitarian work in many ways and look for alternative ways to adapt. So, because as they say, an obstacle is often a springboard, we saw in this complication an opportunity to reform to meet the demands of our time. Today, we are even more functional than before, in terms of the efficiency of internal operations and of course in terms of the scope of the impact of the assistance we provide to all those who benefit from us.
It is clear that the pandemic has created greater problems for vulnerable groups, both in employment – which is essential in a person’s life, and in social interactions – which also extends to the social empathy, the ability to understand inequalities and structural disparities.
Q: What are your future plans for Food On?
Argiris Zannias: The main objective of “Food On” as an NGO is to continue to help people in need, as well as to provide them with opportunities that will help them acquire or even regain a better life – the life they deserve. Always with a strategy guided by the needs of the less fortunate, with small or big steps to make a better society for all. In this effort, we rely on the vital support of our volunteers who contribute labor, as well as our donors, sponsors and private institutions who provide our financial resources. We deeply appreciate all those who are already part of the cause, and we hope that others will join us.
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