Social entrepreneurship can offer solutions to many social problems or at least limit them. Food On is a Non-Governmental Organization with the vision to help unemployed, socially, and occupationally excluded individuals, as well as people who currently live in destitution, get their lives back and make it easier for them to face everyday difficulties. Argiris Zannias, Founder of Food On explained at CEOWORLD magazine how a personal experience gave him the inspiration to create the Non-Governmental Organization and reveals his future plans, having always in mind a better society for all.
Q: Food On started its activity 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” emerged during my early childhood years. I am a member of a single-parent family, that had to deal with financial hardships as well as the social stigma a sole provider parent, like my own, was facing at the time.
This defining era of my life became a catalyst for me, to rapidly mature and start experiencing the world from a whole different perspective.
With the help of “Food On”, 5852 people in Attica have been aided. Our organization’s vision is a society without social exclusion, which gives equal opportunities to all people to live with dignity and independence.
Q: Can you describe your project to us and how do you cover your expenses?
Argiris Zannias: Through an inclusive free-of-charge program, the “Food On” model offers the chance to unemployed, socially, and occupationally excluded individuals, as well as people who currently live in destitution, to connect with professionals and get trained to work 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 clusters and finally fulfill their daily nutritional needs. Things that we take for granted but are not given for so many others among us.
At a different venue each time “Food On” hosts pop-up restaurants. Where a stereotype-free group of strangers with diverse social backgrounds, eat delightful meals at the same table, makes joyful memories, shares stories and emotions. Many people live in indigence, but that’s not necessarily something they share in public. After all, the intimate component of opening-up and sharing mutual feelings of compassion, is what makes dining with people such a special and unique experience. This is the “Food On” social dining, a feast aiming at the social mixing of the participants, creating conditions that may be the instrument of a new beginning for people who need it the most.
Part of our mission is also the re-establishment and integration of our fellowmen living in penury back into society, by providing educational and solidarity activities. Our organization is relying on fundings from private donations, individual contributions, and CSR initiatives from private parties.
Q: Did the Covid-19 pandemic have an impact on your activity and work? Was there a greater need to offer to the community?
Argiris Zannias: The pandemic forced us to put our humanitarian work on hold in many ways and look for alternative routes to adapt. So, because as they say, an obstacle is often a stepping stone, we saw this complication as an opportunity to reform in order to meet the requirements of our time. Right now, we are even more functional than before, in terms of internal operations efficiency and of course in terms of the reach of impact the assistance we provide for all those people who benefit from us has.
Clearly the pandemic has created greater problems for vulnerable groups, both in employment – which is pivotal in a person’s life, and in social interactions – which also extends in social empathy, the ability to understand structural inequalities and disparities.
Q: What are your future plans for Food On?
Argiris Zannias: The main aim that “Food On” has as an NGO, is to continue aiding the people in need, along with the provision of opportunities that will help them acquire or even reacquire a better life – the life they deserve. Always with a strategy driven by the needs the less fortunate, with small or bigger steps to make a better society for all. In that effort, we count on the vital support of our volunteers who are contributing with manpower, together with 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 for more to join us.
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