Canadians love pizza. There are tens of thousands of different pizza take-outs and restaurants around the country to satisfy our cheesy cravings, but what about those who are less fortunate and are unable to treat themselves to a tasty treat?
Vikas Sanger, owner of SFC Pizzeria in North Winnipeg, has some answers. The restaurant has formulated an innovative 'Pay It Forward' program to help feed hungry people in the area through the help and generosity of his other customers.
Sanger decided to set up the program after some hungry customers had come into the restaurant unable to afford to buy any food. Sanger, who moved to Canada from India in 2010, told CBC "in our culture … if somebody comes and asks for food, we cannot deny them, because they are hungry … But I just opened a new restaurant, so I cannot afford to [give] everything free."
Sanger moved from New Delhi to Canada as an international student, with the intention to study business. He met his wife Shivani, who is now a dental hygienist, and six years later bought a vacant gas station on Salter Street. He transformed it into a convenience store and then expanded into a pizzeria.
Sanger opened the restaurant in May and says it was almost immediate that people started to come in, unable to afford a $1 slice of pizza. It was then that he and Shivani had the idea for the Pay It Forward program.
Customers with spare change are given the option to donate a dollar and give someone hungry a slice of pizza. The paying customer is also given a sticky note to pass on words of support and kindness to those who may need it, and the note is stuck to the ‘pay it forward’ wall.
If a person who is unable to afford food themselves comes in, they can take a sticky note from the wall and use it to redeem a slice of pizza or another item from the store. This means that a person in need is able to grab a bite to eat, and a kind message, all in a one-stop-shop.
According to Sanger, the wall is always filled with notes of support and kindness for people who need it. Such as "May you find some magic in today," or "You are light and happiness," and "Have a very pepperoni day." Sanger said when somebody comes in, they can “choose which blessing they need.”
He said "We all are doing this. It's not only us. We came up with the idea … but people are so good, people are so nice, that they want to bless each other."