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Food for change

A Saudi women initiative with the mission to transform the food industry in Saudi Arabia by using ZADK institute as a tool and a platform for social change. Food For Change started long before ZADK with the launching of its cook book “A Spoonful of Home” in 2015, and through educational campaigns and philanthropic activities supporting the underprivileged.

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On Thursday, 19th April 2018, a gathering was initiated and facilitated by the Foundation “Food for Change” to honor the daily work done by Saudi Aramco’s 1300 Gardening and Sanitation workers.

“Food for Change” is a Foundation led by Saudi women with the mission of positively influencing change within the food industry in the Kingdom. Led by Rania Moualla, a local philanthropist, its beliefs include Nourishment, Culture, and Philanthropy. The Foundation seeks to address issues such as healthy nutrition, food waste, and breaking the cycle of poverty through motivational education, training, and welfare initiatives. It aims to partner with schools, businesses, and community groups for maximum impact.

“Food for Change” was pleased to engage the help of Saudi Aramco Expatriate Schools (SAES) to enable this project. From sourcing healthy food items for gift bags, to thoughtfully preparing and packing them, many school students and staff participated in the project.

Mike Smith, Superintendent of SAES, welcomed the opportunity to support this project. He said, “We hope to raise student awareness of the needs of people who live in the wider Dhahran community and help them understand how they can make a difference by volunteering.”

“Food for Change” hopes that this will become an annual event and that other community groups will join them in the future to acknowledge the significant service of all workers within our community.

Faisal Nasser, who helped with the gift distribution, there is a good feeling gained in knowing you have helped someone. “Doing one thing for someone else can make you aware of their lives and how different theirs are to your own.” There is a sense of returning back when you do a good thing and see how happy you make others feel.”.

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Book Signing

The launching of “a spoonful of home” was done in contribution to the JUD charity foundation in Dammam, in order to support children with disabilities.

2 book signings were held in “Desert Design” and “Prince Saud Public Garden” to launch the book. All sales went to charity.

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Cross Border Initiative

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Rania Moualla and her daughter Leena Nasser brought “A Spoonful of Home” to Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Paralympics. Chefs Massimo Bottura “Food for Soul” and David Hertz “Gastromotiva”, who use food and food waste to address issues around poverty and homelessness.

The back story to Food 4 Change:

While attending a Young Entrepreneur’s program in Jeddah, Rania’s daughter Leena was impressed by guest speaker David Hertz, a Brazilian chef and founder of Gastromotiva. In conversation with him later, she told him of her mother’s love of cooking and the cookbook Rania had just authored – ‘A Spoonful of Home’. A telephone conversation followed between Hertz and Rania requesting a copy of the cookbook.

“When you offer a meal, or have a guest at home, it is as though you had God’s presence.”

David Hertz, June 2016

Hertz invited Leena to attend a conference at the Aspen Institute in Washington DC, where he would be addressing issues around breaking the cycle of poverty. There, he revealed his plans for feeding Rio de Janeiro’s homeless and struggling citizens during the up-coming 2016 Olympics, plans which involved:

  • Producing a daily menu using food recycled from the Olympic event venues
  • A menu that would be prepared daily by different well-known chefs from around the world
  • Hosting Rio’s homeless and struggling citizens in a specially constructed restaurant venue, to be known as RefettoRio Gastromotiva.

Touched by her support of projects to aid the disabled through sales of her cookbook, Hertz invited Rania Moualla to represent Saudi Arabia as a guest chef at his RefettoRio Gastromotiva restaurant during the Para-Olympics. It was a challenging invitation and was to prove transformative for Rania’s view of social responsibility within a Saudi environment.

Excess food was sourced daily from the Olympic village suppliers and function venues making it impossible to plan a menu in advance. Despite this, Rania courageously hoped to offer a menu reflecting her own culture and heritage, so she took a collection of her spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, dried mint, paprika, and blossom water. She also added a box of dates from al Qassim to convey the importance of generosity and hospitality in Saudi tradition and culture. As a guest chef for the day, it was Rania’s responsibility to direct the helpers at all stages of the process, from preparation to plating to deciding how she wanted her dishes to be served. In planning her menu, Rania also respected the underlying traditions of Gastromotiva — Nourishment, Culture, and Dignity. The 100+ evening diners were drawn from Rio’s homeless and struggling citizens and included a group of 30 children who were fascinated by Rania’s menu. After the meal was served and shared, Rania and Leena had the opportunity to meet everyone. One of Rania’s lasting impressions was being hugged by the children, conveying both a sense of joy and gratitude for the food but also a much deeper need for love and security.

“Back home, we cook for our children to show them we love them; today, we cooked for you. “This is our way of extending our love to you.”

Rania Moualla’s, speech to the guests:

The combined experiences of cooking for some of Rio’s homeless and attending the Paralympics presented a very personal challenge to Rania. Proving that she owed herself and her country to serve others and a belief that “I owe it to the people who believe in me, including friends who want me to be a driving force, to take the lead and give others a role and purpose.”

Having also been impressed by the hospitality Hertz offered, a visit to ‘The Clink’ Charity in London on the way home allowed Rania further insight into the benefits of social gastronomy programs offering vocational hospitality training.

Food with dignity

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“Food for Change”was on the table at a motivational event held in Dammam by the newly formed foundation of the same name, an initiative lead by Saudi women with the mission of positively influencing change within the food industry in the Kingdom.

Held on Saudi Arabia’s National Day in 2017, this event reflected the region’s deep-rooted culture of social responsibility. Many enthusiastic volunteers worked hard to prepare and serve food to the CEOs of eight local social welfare-oriented foundations. They brought several low-income families supported by their organizations – a total of 270 guests in all, including children.

“Food for Thought” invited motivational speakers from Ignite,  who each shared short stories of personal courage to inspire the guests. Entertainment was provided by local young talent.

The event was endorsed by the presence of her Highness Princess Abeer bint Faisal bin Turki, Chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Eastern Province Council for Social Responsibility.

Rania Moualla’s Idea,Food 4 Change  takes its inspiration from the work of globally renowned chefs Massimo Bottura ( Food for Soul ) (and David Hertz Gastromotiva)  who use food and food waste to address issues around poverty and homelessness.

The National Day event reflected the core values of the Food 4 Change  foundation through:
  • Nourishment (based on wellness and sustainability) –   a menu that was healthy and locally sourced.
  • Culture (inspired by identity, art, and tradition) – the genuine warmth of Saudi hospitality at its very best.
  • Philanthropy (sparking the spirit of service and giving) – an air of excitement from the enthusiastic volunteers, with pleasure at having the opportunity to serve others in such a ‘hands-on’ way.
The inspirational speakers from Ignite  included:
  • a wheel-chair bound gentleman who encouraged the audience to believe that every day could be a better day.
  • A breast cancer survivor.
  • A man who failed in school but motivated himself to study and is now a lawyer.
  • A young man who was raised in an orphanage, he brought tears to the audience with his inspiring and powerful story of becoming someone in a society where belonging to a family means everything.
  • Respect for humanity showed throughout the entire evening. Rania Moualla’s leadership of the event produced a sense of teamwork amongst the volunteers and her welcoming and respectful approach to the guests set a notable example, affirming their dignity as worthy human beings and not just as ‘the poor and needy.’