Coquitlam newcomers rescue grocery store food waste

posted on April 15, 2019

By Tri-Cities News |

Federal government makes a video to show how immigrants to Canada are making a positive difference

A small group of newcomers who made news last year for an innovative food waste recycling effort are now reaching a national audience.

Thanks to a video made for National Volunteer Week last week, Coquitlam volunteers who started a food bank using surplus food from groceries stores are getting recognized.

The story was reported by the Tri-City News last November.

Igor Bjelac and his fellow started the initiative, which sees volunteers pick up surplus food from grocery stores and make it available to people in need because of low income, vulnerability, refugees in transition, single moms and volunteers who are also giving back.

There is no such thing as “ugly food” in Serbia where Bjelac comes from and the best before date is really the best taste date; it’s still good and should be eaten, he said.

“Imperfect food is still healthy, it’s providing more nutrients,” Bjelac told the Tri-City News at the time.

By repurposing food that otherwise would be thrown away, the small program started by immigrants taking language classes at Vanier Centre has grown to distribute annually 140,000 pounds of food, worth over $750,000.

Some of the stores contributing include Save-On-Foods, Thrifty Foods, Inno Bakery, JJ Bean and Shoppers Drug Mart while places getting the food include Coquitlam’s 3030 Gordon shelter, Suwa’lkh school, Aunt Leah’s Place, and the Union Gospel Mission, and others.

The video produced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is now available on

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