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Steffan Manno—Feeding Families Displaced from Sandy

Sustainability Spotlight December 2012
Sustainability is truly a part of Steffan Manno’s everyday business. The Viridian Director is owner and co­executive chef of Giamano’s Ristorante in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, and spends his days in the kitchen ensuring that the team uses organic, locally grown and procured produce and hormone­ and antibiotic­free meats and dairy whenever possible.

In April of this year, Manno got the chance to take his appreciation for sustainability to a new level when he heard about the Viridian opportunity from Executive Director Frank Pescatore. Manno was immediately attracted to the possibility of starting a direct selling business that is product­free and to being part of a company that is so focused on its environmental impact.

Manno said that usually when you hear that something is green and organic, you immediately fear that the product will cost more money, but with Viridian you are not asking anyone to change their monthly spending habits. Instead, you are helping them save money and the environment at the same time.

“Through Viridian I saw an opportunity—for a small individual effort with a huge collective impact,” he said. “As a small restaurant I can only do so much, but with Viridian I have the opportunity to get millions of customers to use a green energy product.”

While he has only been with Viridian a few months, Manno has already made his mark in the company, particularly following Hurricane Sandy. After losing power for six days and realizing how much his community was hurting, Manno and his family brainstormed the best way to help their longtime friends and local community. The answer was to start feeding people.

A few weeks ago, Manno and his family introduced Locals Feeding Locals, a community­based relief effort to sponsor families affected by Hurricane Sandy. For the past 10 years, Giamano’s Ristorante has organized “community dinners” to feed the less fortunate and Manno decided to expand these efforts after the storm. Going forward, the restaurant is working with community members to help sponsor families who have been severely affected by the hurricane. Weekly we will provide trays of food to each sponsored family. “We want to bring families to the table”. The restaurant, which is preparing all of the meals, is currently feeding about 12 families.

“I realized on a sustainability scale, that just doing something small or local is incredibly important,” Manno said. “If there were more people making a small local effort, we would see a huge, huge result. Doing local sustainability events is important because when people work locally they can see and feel the results. When you know what it feels like to make an impact locally, you realize your potential, and want to do it again, and again.”

“To me Viridian represents a really big, happy family and coming from a big family, I really love the feeling of Viridian,” he added. “Everyone I have met that is involved with the Viridian opportunity has been awesome”.