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Yana and Chris, founders of the Foodies agency

On January 7, 2020, Yana and Khrystyna, together with Chef Mirali, organized a charity dinner for Kyiv pensioners. Thousands of seniors were invited to a Christmas dinner at the former TetraPak plant. It is the story of the girls.

“In 2014, the two of us created Foodies — an urban project about the city food culture. We do everything possible to develop, spread, and support it, like a gastro society. Food is a universal code. It has many different meanings. And when you start uncovering almost any product in these senses, the only question left is how you read and disclose it. Food is a repository of traditions, which you can share. Food can tell us about pleasure, high culture, and life. Because we always eat.

The idea that food unites is not new. A watermelon connects people. It is a source of senses, a treasure trove of memories. Because you ate watermelon as a child, you can eat it now, and you will in 50 years.

Everything started with dinner parties — we invited our friends and acquaintances. We hosted dinners in the various locations: old canteen of the Theatre, Cinema and Television University, in Kyiv's Colosseum, on Trukhaniv Island, twice in the Zhytniy Market, in the carpentry atelier at the Expocenter, on the train platform, at the factory, on the waterfront in Hydropark. Then we developed into a commercial project — we did a bit of catering. And after some time we started working as an agency — restaurants approached us to help them with a menu. During the same period, we officially worked in the administration team of the Zhytniy Market. We were development managers. However, we worked on everything at once: we came up with the program, purpose, and values. We had to both criticize and praise ourselves. We love markets as an urban space.

Our "Poludenok" [Nuncheon — Ed.] is the event that most embodied the Foodies values' socio-gastronomic purpose. When by gathering at one table, you also help others. As we organized the Christmas dinner, we wanted to achieve three goals. The first was to take care of those in need, people who cannot arrange a holiday for themselves, to help them feel the family spirit of Christmas. The second was reasonable consumption. We did not use disposable utensils, and all garbage was sorted and sent for recycling. Third, we wanted to unite the city. 150 volunteers, 50 chefs, three organizers, and 43 business partners participated in "Poludenok."

Maybe even more because some remained incognito. Even though the initial approximate expenses for dinner were around 600,000 hryvnias, we could fit into the 250,000 hryvnias budget due to the discounts and investments from our partners. We were able to treat a thousand Kyiv pensioners, whom we invited with the help of the Starenki charity initiative and territorial social help centers.

The institute of volunteering, in general, is an interesting experience. If a person agrees to it, it will pay off. This mutual exchange is significant.

But at the same time, you can't demand it. We didn't impose anything at all. We just asked for help. People who could help - supported us. Everyone did according to their desire and capability. Someone wanted to communicate with seniors, so they chose a role of a waiter. One girl was assembling and dismantling the site.

Moreover, there were recycling stations where people soaked dishes for 5 hours, sorted garbage, sent it upstairs and downstairs. Everything worked like one big ship. It was an incredible amount of work. But there was nothing more important or less important. Everyone just did it out of love and desire, and everyone was happy about it.

We had an area where guests were greeted and escorted, and everyone who came out was given a cupcake. When the guests realized that it was free, that no official was about to give a speech, there was an incredible reaction of surprise and gratitude. We just made this dinner because we wanted to take care of these people. And it seems to be one of the most important things. We even canceled the distribution line: it was planned that the guest would take a tray and sit at the table, but we declined this idea.

T​​here was a woman who thanked us and said how great it was to get out with peers and spend time together and how she was sad to go back home alone afterward. And this "home alone" was chilling.

When we create collaborations or come up with ideas, we need to be in tune with our values. If we talk about the Foodies' values — it's sincerity and honesty. Incredible things are happening in Kyiv now in terms of the manifestation of the young people, culture — it is very signifying to the city. We just dig up and restore the lost senses. After 2014, we felt supported in everything. Your community will help you.

No matter what you do, no matter what you start, you can turn to anyone for help. We all found ourselves in a period when previously paved tracks suddenly became irrelevant.

It seems we are one of the first generations who started thinking: "what to do, where to go?" We can feel this. Moreover, Kyiv is a very accessible city, very open. It calls you to find out yourself. It promotes development and unification. We had an incredible feeling when we hosted breakfasts at the Kashtan Cafe. We saw a yard full of people, some sitting on the pavement, on benches, on a chair without a table. These people did not just come for breakfast. It was a manifestation of the living spirit of the city. "

Yana and Kris, founders of the Foodies agency


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