Igor Bjelac has been taking food, packing it and distributing it to those who need it for five years, since he arrived in Vancouver.
In the beginning, he volunteered in a humanitarian organization, and then, with five friends of immigrants, he formed an Association whose volunteers collect food in several supermarkets every day, sort, pack and distribute it to immigrants, refugees and people living on the streets.
Igor Bjelac states that over 200-250 tons of food worth over 2.5 million dollars are collected annually.
“Five years ago, when we realized that we could save food, in cooperation with store managers who secretly allowed us to take food that was not spoiled, it just means that the food tastes perfect by the marked date on the packaging,” explains Bjelac.
More than half of the food produced in Canada ends up in the garbage, according to last year’s research. About $ 49 billion is lost each year, and the amount of food thrown away would be enough to feed every Canadian for five months.
“It’s not just food wasted, you waste time and money, and in the end you have to pay for someone to take it to the garbage, so that in the end, when it starts to rot, it produces methane, which is 25 percent worse than carbon dioxide,” explains Bjelac.
The value of one box is up to $ 300
All food is divided into the expected number of families. The value of each box is between 200 and 300 dollars, families receive them twice a month, which is a saving of about 500 to 700 dollars per household. Or the average consumer basket for one family.
“Not only do we give people food, but we organize people and their social side by becoming our volunteers, communicating with each other, mixing cultures and in that way getting to know their neighbors,” explains Bjelac.
Igor and his friends went a step further. Last December, they founded a small company, created their own brand and soon received the British Columbia Award for what they do.
“We created social entrepreneurship because the whole process became expensive for us, we paid for it out of all pockets. Now we have created a company whose 50 percent of income goes to our and other organizations so that we deal with the prevention of hunger in Canada,” explains Bjelac.
Organizations like this are especially important for people arriving in Canada. Without many friends, family environment and fear of how he will cope.
“One of our greatest wishes is to start similar stories in the countries we are from, in Serbia, Moldova, Egypt, Iran … and to return to our countries a part of what they gave us,” Bjelac said.