For the volunteers at the food bank’s distribution point in Ridderkerk, it’s a hard blow. They have been derailed with a new method from Fødevarebanken Rotterdam. It stings men and women who have devoted themselves to it for years. “We have not had the opportunity to make the changes ourselves. We are not involved in any way “, says coordinator Wilma Bracké, who was also thanked.
She is one of the volunteers who has made a valuable contribution to the distribution site in Ridderkerk from the beginning. For eighteen years, a large part of her week revolved around the Food Bank, especially when she took over the coordinating role from the then 80-year-old Tiny Hellings ten years ago.
“They were allowed to call me 24 hours a day,” says Bracké about her involvement: “We made emergency kits ourselves, from toilet paper to debris, until when the fridge in a family was empty. We also made temporary packages for future customers, for which the application ran in Rotterdam. “
In the first year, the Food Bank in Ridderkerk helped about twenty households. Despite the wishes of Ridderkerk’s councilor Heleen van den Berg (“we must make the Food Bank redundant”), this grew to more than a hundred families. “In our busiest year, we had 115 boxes every week. Our last issue was 95 boxes for 80 households. Larger families are helped with two packed lunches, ”remembers the former coordinator.
In the early years, the issue point could use the space next to Sint Joriskerk. After renovation, the indoor garage was ready for delivery. Due to a doubling of the number of customers, we ran out of space. Councilor Cora van Vliet thought those circumstances were unacceptable and helped us find a nice place in the household school, ”says Wilma.
The opening of this new distribution site was celebrated in May 2019 with the ribbon by Councilor Marten Japenga. All that joy and enthusiasm then is gone now. “We had a good team here with thirteen volunteers and support from the churches. We regularly gave lectures and information at schools and other organizations, which led to many donations. ”
“Instead of handing out boxes, Fødevarebanken Rotterdam will switch to a retail concept. We could have done that with our team, but we did not get that chance, ”says Bracké. At the request of Fødevarebanken Rotterdam, the coordinator of the distribution site thought that he would talk to the director of Rotterdams Fødevarebank with two employees about this new concept. She had prepared herself with a whole list of questions: “But I did not have to ask them any more. Within two minutes we were told: “The food company has become Food Bank Ridderkerk”.
It came as a complete surprise, for all the distribution points had been promised in advance that the volunteers would be involved in any changes. On 5 September 2019, the distribution points received an email from the director of Fødevarebanken Rotterdam in response to an article in Algemeen Dagblad about the desire to work with stores in the future:
“I can imagine that there will be uncertainty about the future of the distribution points. There is no need for that, because when it comes to introducing stores, it will be a gradual process that involves you greatly. In addition, we also need your help and experience to staff the stores. We will keep you informed of developments … “
set on the sideline
It therefore felt on several points like a stab in the back for Ridderkerk Food Bank volunteers that the step to the new working method was taken without being able to provide their input. “The director of Rotterdam Food Bank walked past us and made appointments behind our backs. The board of the food company has also disappointed us deeply. We had good contact. If we were offered too many fresh items, we referred to the Food Company. We also sent clothes, toys and bicycles their way. Already when we were offered 100 free PCR tests (next to Hotel Van der Valk), I referred the generous donor to the Food Company because they had more customers, I thought. We, in turn, sometimes got vegetables etc on Wednesdays. It always went well, I thought. ”
It explains the indignation of the coordinator and other parties involved at the point of sale. They were only informed of the new plans after the “accreditation” of Food Bank Ridderkerk for FoodCompany had been implemented. “We have become completely out of order as a result,” says Wilma Bracké, who is still enthusiastic about this.
However, she also realizes that nothing can be changed: “Any accreditation is apparently irreversible. Protests at the Food Banks Association of the Netherlands have only resulted in surprise over the process. “
“We are now primarily concerned about the people who are dependent on the Food Bank. They were trusted with us and they could pick up their groceries and all accessories anonymously. Now they have to go to a ‘shop’ that basically says in big letters that they can not pay for their food. Our hope is that everyone will continue to receive help in the same way. Because we did much, much more than hand over the packages from Rotterdam. We will not be able to see for ourselves how things are going now, because none of our volunteers have wanted to change. Very sad that it turned out that way. It really could have been different, ”says the former coordinator.
Through: BAR local mediato be read this week The combination†