The food bank Lelystad continues to help in difficult times

Kees van den Haspel: ‘Our customers do not lack anything’. Photo: Photo study Wierd

The food banks in the Netherlands are having a hard time. The cost of a household is rising, and the demand for packed lunches from adults, families, but also from families caring for Ukrainians is increasing. Still, Lelystad Fødevarebank keeps its head above water. “There are enough supplies to help everyone.”

The Food Bank now has 242 customers who receive food aid every week. In addition, there are 20 families (8 percent) who need extra help due to the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. ‘There is enough weekly supply to help everyone,’ says Secretary Kees van den Haspel. Large food companies and also private individuals offer to donate products. These are then picked up by truck on Tuesday and Wednesday. ‘Sometimes the truck comes back completely full, sometimes only half full. Fortunately, we are in a good region and our customers do not lack anything. ‘

IDO Foundation

The IDO Foundation helps people who – for whatever reason – have been in a vulnerable position. Now they are also helping the Ukrainians who fled the war. “The IDO Foundation contacted us a while back to ask if we were ready for an influx of Ukrainian refugees,” Kees says. Ukrainians came to Lelystad in various forms of shelter. This can double the amount normally spent on groceries. So we might be busier because people need more help. ‘

Fødevarebanken Lelystad has for many years worked closely with the IDO Foundation, which now also coordinates aid to Ukrainians. Now also to be able to provide food aid to the Ukrainians. ‘By the first question from the IDO Fund, we realized that the flow of refugees could continue for a long time and we therefore need to find a stable form of assistance’. This is possible in our ordinary work process. We have therefore made an agreement with each other. Every Tuesday we get to know how many Ukrainians – or families who have Ukrainians at home – are in Lelystad. That way, over time, we know how to best distribute our products. We do it as fairly as possible for everyone. ‘

packed lunches

What exactly is packed in the packed lunches will not be known until Tuesday, when the truck with goods will return. ‘It almost always contains fresh vegetables, meat and frozen products. It is always varied. Last week, for example, we had a lot of fresh, dairy products and eggs. Our goal is to keep the packages as healthy as possible, just like normal consumer shopping. ‘

Not only large companies can donate products, but individuals can too. “Sometimes we get called up and asked if we would like, for example, canned goods or pasta. We are very happy to go into that. We are also very happy with non-perishable products, such as wholemeal pasta and preserves. That is our goal; be able to give the customer as much as possible from the tranche of five. ‘

Proud of volunteers

Packed lunches can be picked up weekly on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday afternoon. This would not be possible without the volunteers. Kees is therefore proud of all the volunteers who work half days every week to be able to provide packed lunches to everyone. ‘Everyone who works here is so enthusiastic and motivated. I like to see that. They are here every week, so no one misses anything. More than one million people in the Netherlands live below the poverty line. They do not have enough money to put a complete meal on the table every day. Fødevarebanken Lelystad therefore provides food assistance to Lelysted residents who are in difficulty. Their motto: to fight poverty and make food surpluses disappear, thereby reducing the burden on the environment.

The food bank Lelystad has been certified since 2016 by the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA). Every year, an agency on behalf of NVWA checks whether the food bank meets the requirements for food safety. ‘We meet the same requirements as at the checkout in the supermarket. Our enthusiasm and professionalism ensures that the certificate can be renewed year after year. We deliver quality. ‘

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