Spreading the idea
The idea for Whole Surplus came from Olcay’s own experience. As a child on a farm, he saw a truck dumping excess ice cream. He was thrilled to get some for himself, but also to share it with others in the area. Later, in college, he was often able to find produce that was still good being thrown out – he used it to cook meals for himself and his roommates. He came up with the idea that he could help hungry people while also cutting waste and protecting the environment. The concept is proving popular in many places.
The company is interested in the possibility of expansion, and Olcay is confident that with some European investment it will be operating in Germany as early as late 2020. It is also exploring operations in Italy and Russia.
The concept of food banks is relatively new in Turkey, Olcay says. They were only legally recognised in 2014, and when Fazla Gida started in 2017, there were only three or four in a country of more than 80Â million people. Now, he says, there are more than 80, most of them organised by Fazla Gida or in cooperation with Turkish municipalities, the Red Cross and other charities. Fazla Gida has been getting food donations to 330,000 people a month, and Olcay plans on increasing that to 600,000 by the end of the year. The company has also been delivering food to refugee camps in the southern part of Turkey, where many Syrian refugees are living.
According to Olcay, there are two reasons for the incredible rate of growth.
“The first is that we started from nothing, so we had room for rapid growth,” he says. “The second is that solidarity is part of the Turkish culture and in our roots. People want to be generous.”