Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Providing Healthy Meals for Children

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.

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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.

Programme implementation

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.

Society needs

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.

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Latsis Supported Day Clinic Saves Lives

Opened in December 2014, the Nikos Kourkoulos Day Clinic is a specialized cancer treatment facility which has helped many people suffering from this terrible disease. Funded through a donation by the Latsis family, the project has create Greece’s first ever day clinic for cancer patients where they can undergo a range of medical treatments. The day clinic has been developed in partnership between the Latsis family, Health Minister Andreas T. Lykourentzos, and the managing director of Agios Savvas, Panagiotis Minogiannis. This partnership has been a landmark initiative, highlighting that experts from government, philanthropic organisations like the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, and companies operating in the private sector can come together to help communities and create medical infrastructures which will save thousands of lives.

The Latsis family are well known for their philanthropic work through The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and have been especially instrumental in the development of the clinic, benefiting from the excellent work carried out by Spiro Latsis – which can be read about in greater detail on the Spiro Latsis Latsis Foundation Blog – and others at the organisation including Marianna Latsis who has donated to the project from her own personal funds and has been an integral part of development through financing construction.

Overview of the Nikos Kourkoulos Day Clinic

At 3,650 square metres in area, the day clinic has been designed to offer a substantial array of treatments across its 6 floors, basement, and two sub-basements. The building itself is not entirely new, being a substantial upgrade of the 6th Oncology Hospital of the Greek Insurance Institute. The entire project has been developed with a modern approach to cancer treatments which will mean that patients can undergo chemotherapy and possibly surgery before being discharged from the hospital within 24 hours. In just one year the clinic will receive 30,000 patients performing just under 4,000 surgeries – a staggering amount which may increase throughout its lifetime.

The project has been envisaged as a modern example of efficiency and high quality hospital care; efficiency has been central to the clinic in order to meet the high volume of patients and their needs. All three of its surgical rooms have been equipped with cutting edge medical facilities, while its 45 beds will be used to house 26 oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy and 19 beds for those requiring surgery.

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The Nikos Kourkoulos Day Clinic will be managed via the Agios Savvas Cancer Treatment Hospital which is in Athens. Available treatments will be administered through one of four departments, including:

  1. Same Day Surgical Services
  2. Same Day Pathology Services
  3. The Percutaneous Breast Biopsy Procedures Unit
  4. Radiology Department

Supplementing these physical treatment areas, the clinic will also supply emotional and psychological counselling to patients who require it, alongside a robust support service. One of the main functions of the clinic will be to offer pathology and x-ray examinations quickly and efficiently.

One of the main concepts behind the day clinic has been to optimise the way cancer is treated in the local area. Research has shown that day clinics can significantly increase treatment best practices while lowering the strain put on hospital resources, finances, and insurance. The clinic takes a contemporary outlook that comfort can help with treatment; with this in mind patients are treated at the clinic in surroundings which are more conducive to comfort than are often found in general hospitals. Combining expertise, cutting edge equipment, and comfort; it is hoped that the Nikos Kourkoulos Day Clinic will act as a template for modern treatment which will be carried over into the designing and development of future medical treatment centres.

By streamlining the treatment process and taking the strain away from general hospitals, the day clinic is proving to be a great success, and will continue to improve the lives of thousands of cancer sufferers and their families.

Nikos Kourkoulos Tribute

Marianna Latsis has donated a massive 4 million Euros to bring the clinic to fruition, with the hospital being named after the famous Greek actor Nikos Kourkoulos, who himself died at the age of 72 after a long fight with cancer. It is hoped that through his memory, more can be done to help those suffering from the terrible disease which took his life. With world class facilities and a team of highly trained oncologists determined to increase the quality of life of patients, there is no doubt that the Nikos Kourkoulos Day Clinic will go on to save thousands of lives in the future.