Project Donated Food expanding, receiving support by state
In the last five years, more than 1,000 tonnes of food that would have gone to waste was distributed among those in need thanks to the campaign.
Now, the demand among retailers for participation in the project is so great that it exceeds the capabilities of the organisation based on volunteer work.
Volunteers must pick up food from 102 shops in 27 towns across the country every day within one hour and distribute it among those in need, the head of the Slovenian organisation, Nadja Pahor Bizjak, said at Monday's press conference.
This is a huge challenge in terms of human resources, she said.
Last year 360 tonnes of food was collected, and the plan for this year is more than 400 tonnes.
Slovenia's Lions Clubs International is therefore pushing for a systemic solution that would be implemented in the next two years.
In some municipalities, systemic solutions are already being introduced, as municipalities have started hiring people to run the project, Pahor Bizjak said.
The project also involves cooperation with charities and NGOs such as the Red Cross Slovenia, Caritas and the Rotary Club, while the Slovenian branch of Lions Clubs International alone encompasses 59 clubs.
According to Pahor Bizjak, the project has been coordinated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food since the beginning. The ministry has also published a special call for applications to enable the participating clubs to purchase the necessary equipment such as refrigerators, so that they can deliver food in line with hygienic standards.
"Now we are in talks with the ministry, so that the food would no longer be collected by volunteers," Pahor Bizjak said.
One solution would be to set up public institutions that would be in charge of the project and the other would be to have municipalities finance it.
Some 3,000 people currently receive the food, but the plan is to also include the elderly.
Today's press conference was attended by Gudrun Yngvadottir, the head of Lions Club International, the biggest charity service organization in the world.
Praising the work of Slovenian Lions clubs, she said the organisation was happy to support Slovenian projects such as Donated Food.