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Fazla and Gida Kurtarma Derneği Respond to Food Needs in Turkey

On February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria. Less than half a day later, the region was devastated by another 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Within about a month’s time, over 13,000 aftershocks were felt.

The events have killed over 50,000 people, left 1.5 million unsheltered, caused $34 billion in damages across Turkey alone, and caused rippling effects that are unmeasurable. 

While these challenges feel insurmountable, 2020 Solver team, Fazla, is doing its part to bring food to those in need. Fazla–a social startup developing technology-based holistic solutions to reduce waste generation and bring resources into the circular economy–has partnered with Gida Kurtarma Derneği, which translates to Food Rescue Association in English. The two organizations took immediate action and continue to implement projects for medium and long-term aid across Turkey.

Koray Kocer, marketing lead at Fazla shared, “The earthquakes that struck 11 cities in Turkey not only affected those areas but all the nation and beyond. They not only destroyed the cities but also wiped out the past and [present] of the people living there. It is our duty to rebuild life in those areas and give them a future.”

To date, Fazla and Gida Kurtarma Derneği have distributed 10 tons of staple products to the disaster areas and coordinated the distribution of 46 semi trucks loaded with dry food, sanitary products, water and fast-moving consumer goods at 44 distinct locations. 

Regular donation processes were directed promptly to the affected areas and 25,000 hot meals were distributed across five cities in addition to 25,000 meal sets including seven food products.  

Fazla and Gida Kurtarma Derneği continue to implement projects for container kitchen setups, which serve as mobile kitchens to be used for hot meal productions and distributions, and water support. Gida Kurtarma Derneği was funded by the Turkish Philanthropy Funds for the container kitchen setup project. The funds, approximately $283,947, are to be utilized in hot meal production and distribution, and to provide employment opportunities in these areas. They are also working on an additional distribution of 100 million Turkish Lira (about $5.28 million USD) worth of food donations for the coming three months and establishing the necessary systems for people to access sufficient, nutritious, and secure food for the next half year.

None of this work would be possible without Fazla’s wide network of retailers, manufacturers, and distributors in the country as well as Gida Kurtarma Derneği’s food bank network. 

“Right after finding out about the earthquake, I contacted all our food bank connections from around Turkey, which lay at the heart of our business and with whom we work hand-in-hand to reach people in need. Without letting themselves experience all the pain and grief for their loss, they were ready to give all the support they could. That reminded me of the essence of our mission, to create impact with determination, and help those in need,” shared Berat Incı, vice president of corporate relations at Fazla and chairman of the executive board of Gida Kurtarma Derneği.

And while their operations are leading to direct impact, the inability to predict the humanitarian needs and overall management post-earthquake does lead to some uncertainty for both teams. 

Olcay Silahli, co-founder and CEO of Fazla shared, “To make a mistake during planning is to plan to make a mistake. We have completed countless donation operations and reached millions of people in need throughout our journey, but now it means more than ever. Today, donations will not be delivered to those people’s homes and today they may not be able to share it with their loved ones. That’s why we need to be more agile, more resilient, and more dedicated to creating impact as we have never been so far.”

Fazla and Gida Kurtarma Derneği can be followed online and share regular updates on their operations in Turkey. 

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