GANU-DENU to help those in need

Apr 26 2023.

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“Give what you can. Take what GANU-DENU you need”. This is how the motto reads for the latest endeavour named the GANU-DENU programme by the Annapoorna initiative, aimed at sharing bounty, promoting empathy and fostering a sense of oneness among people. 

Launched on 22nd April 2023, the programme is aimed to be stationed at restaurants and cafes where consumers visiting the venues will have the opportunity to generously pay for an extra vegetarian meal or beverage for a person in need, who can claim the said meal from the same venue later. 
The programme is built upon 3 main societal values: Goodness, Compassion and Abundance.

It carries a mission of establishing a donation programme to help those in need and inspire people to give generously, to get to know a little bit more about the programme. Daily Mirror Life recently sat down with GANU-DENU programme coordinator Shobana Cooke. Following are the excerpts of the discussion.

Q Give us a brief about the GANU-DENU programme?
As an organisation, we strongly believe that Sri Lanka has enough resources and assets, especially food that can be shared across communities. That was a reason for us to come up and propose a pay-it-forward food donation programme that allows restaurants to support their local communities together while generating revenue. We named it the GANU-DENU programme. By participating in this programme, restaurants and similar organisations can generate revenue, together while demonstrating social responsibility, and supporting those who can’t afford it. A person can make a difference in another person’s life with a simple act of kindness.

Q “Give what you can-Take what you need- Finding joy in giving-in sharing and caring-and not expecting anything in return”. This is the concept of the GANU DENU programme. Tell us the story rooting us to the concept.
The programme is primarily inspired by Annapoorna, the Hindu deity that brings food, vegetation, and prosperity to the world. It is by Her grace that we are nourished without judgement. It is in this spirit we invite people to share and make available her bounty to all other people.

Also, to quote a Lebanese-American philosopher who once said, Give and Take...for to the bee a flower is a fountain of life... And to the flower, a bee is a messenger of love... And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy. 

Q How can restaurants and cafes be a part of the programme?
We have a few participation guidelines and options for restaurants and cafes who want to be part of this programme. 

The basic procedure is, customers at the point of sales in these outlets will be given the option to purchase a meal or drink token for someone in need. We recommend that the food outlet selects 2-3 items from the menu to be earmarked towards the donation programme to make the process more seamless for the food outlet. 

They can follow 2 options to implement the donation. 

After a customer visits the outlet and purchases an extra meal or beverage, the cashier will then hand the customer a token to be placed in a glass jar to be displayed by the till. (Tokens will be provided to the restaurant). Thereby any person in need can come in and request to claim the food/drink token in exchange for nourishment that has been pre-paid for.
Once a customer makes a monetary donation to the restaurant at their discretion restaurants can make a display at their points of sale denoting that they wish to distribute the collections, their food and beverages to any particular food kitchen or feeding initiative led by organisations of faith, and other community centres. Our team will then coordinate with the restaurant to distribute the donated food and beverage items to our partner organisations at the discretion of the restaurant operator.

*Please note that the food/drink contributed towards and claimed can only be vegetarian, honouring the principle of Ahimsa, to cause no harm. The restaurant operator is not required to be vegetarian, we only humbly request that the items donated be vegetarian.

Q Is there any eligibility criteria for a person to come in and request a token for a free meal in these restaurants?
The donation programme is open to anyone who is in need. There are no criteria for eligibility or any form of requirement for a consumer to partake in the programme. We initiated this as a certain level of trust in individuals and their governing ethics. We believe that in order the for the programme to be successful, it will rely on the integrity and commitment of everyone involved, including donors, recipients and restaurant operators.

Q As of now more than 10 businesses have already registered to be partners of the programme. Tell us what is the level of impact and change. What do you hope to generate through this initiative?
According to the latest data from the World Food Programme, 6.3 million people, or over 30% of Sri Lanka’s population, are “food insecure” and require humanitarian assistance. As I mentioned earlier we strongly believe that there are enough resources available to be shared across communities to address and curb this situation.

This food donation initiative will anomalously allow restaurants and potential suppliers to support their local communities together while generating their business revenue.

For more information about the programme the following can be contacted: [email protected] 

By Nuzla Rizkiya


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