In Greece, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is making strides in implementing the social welfare and public service legacy of John S. Latsis, the man for whom the foundation is named. A successful entrepreneur in the shipping, oil, financial and credit industries, John S. Latsis gave back through scholarships, awards for contributions to various fields of science, emergency relief support and more. John S. Latsis passed away in 2003, but his children have continued his public service work through the foundation created in his memory. Created in 2005, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is headed by a supervisory board that is comprised of Henrietta Latsis (president), Spiro Latsis, Marianna Latsis and Margarita Latsis. Together, the board has worked tirelessly to facilitate the success of public benefit projects and programmes.
Since its inception, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has been involved in numerous initiatives, which include providing healthy meals to students. More than just to provide a meal, the healthy meal programmes are aimed at helping students and families establish healthy habits for a lifetime. For children in particular, it is vital that healthy meals are available so they can gain the energy required to focus and perform well in their academics. Additionally, a healthy diet facilitates a child’s proper growth and development.
In the public’s best interest
Like much of the rest of Europe, Greece is in a period of rebuilding after the global financial crisis. The present financial situation has resulted in greater needs, and in response, the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health, Prolepsis, partnered with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to come up with the Food Aid and Promotion of Healthy Nutrition Programme. The aim of the programme is to help provide students with healthy meals while also encouraging healthy habits amongst families.
Now referred to as DIATROFI, the healthy meals programme has attracted the support of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. DIATROFI’s vision is to implement health and social welfare programmes for the good of the population. Through the partnership of numerous sponsors, nearly 62,000 students from more than 400 schools benefited from DIATROFI.
DIATROFI has a strict selection criteria for participating schools, but one overarching factor is the need to support students in schools from poor and economically vulnerable areas. Once selected, the scientific team at the Prolepsis Institute comes up with meals that meet the dietary requirements of the students. Preparation of these meals is performed to meet strict sanitation and safety standards, and the food is distributed on a daily basis.
Constant monitoring of meal handling and delivery is performed through regular visits and inspections by programme stakeholders. Additionally, the programme implementation features distribution of material that educates students and families regarding healthy nutrition. Data collected during visits and interactions is recorded for future analysis.
Since its inception, the DIATROFI programme has helped reduce food insecurity while improving eating habits amongst school-going children and their families. The educational material provided opens lines of communication between schools and parents, strengthening relationships and cohesion. Better relationships foster positivity amongst all involved, which contributes to a stronger community.
Partnering with organisations like the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has helped DIATROFI acquire the additional resources needed to positively impact more children and their families. An analysis of the 2014 data collected showed a 6% reduction in food insecurity (54% to 48%), and combined with hunger rates, a collective 11% drop. Student participation cultivates stronger knowledge on nutrition amongst children and helps make them aware of the importance of healthy living as well as keeping the environment safe.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation recognises the growing needs of society, and thus invests time in finding the programmes that best serve society and make the maximum use of available resources. To this end, the foundation supports programmes of its own as well as some brought forward by other organisations – like the Prolepsis Institute.
On its part, Prolepsis works to implement policies and undertake research that enables the organisation to come up with relevant public benefit projects that improve public health. Seminars, meetings and scientific conferences are some of the avenues Prolepsis uses to assess the needs of society and design the programmes that provide adequate solutions.
Together, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and the DIATROFI programme, along with other sponsors, are helping children enjoy healthy nutrition that is often missing from homes. As childhood is the opportune time to instil the importance of healthy eating habits, the programme doesn’t simply provide food, it seeks to educate students and parents to help them become more aware of the need to have healthier food at home. As a result, the whole family gets to benefit from eating healthy, nutritious diets.