Farewell to Nan de Smet, the face of the food bank in Leidschendam-Voorburg

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Voorburg – 81-year-old Nan de Smet is happy to hand over the baton to Rob Kuipers after a 15-year presidency. The recent appointment of Nan as a member of the Orange-Nassau Order is therefore a wonderful tribute to his work. He looks back with pride.

In 2007, Nan did not exactly end up in a bed spread: “Oh no, far from it! A Rotary member said there was a need for new directors at the Food Bank. Rotary clubs do a lot for social purposes. It is sometimes expressed through actions that generate money, but also through support in all possible areas. And the same goes for the Food Bank.

This organization immediately appealed to me, much needed to be done. The whole thing was very tentatively arranged; there were almost no facilities and there was a lack of direction. Food banks in the Netherlands did not yet exist. At one point, I was alone as a board member, ”says Nan. That is why I am so proud that we have grown into a professional company, with all unpaid volunteers. We have a full board and our foreman Jim Sabiran has a nice bunch of volunteers ready for the implementation. What I like best is the fundraising for our bus and that we have regular donors. ”

The Food Bank is not a standard organization. “There is really a lot to be done. The food must be collected, sorted and packed before distribution. In addition, it must be financially correct and food security must be in order. That is why I have great respect for our volunteers, who every week make sure that all bags are filled and end up in the right place. ”

The image of the food bank has changed a lot in recent years. “It is easier for people to give to the Food Bank these days. It was different in the beginning. People thought it had been abused. It has been realized that the government cannot solve everything, and the realization has also gone up that it can happen to anyone. For example, one sometimes hears of campaigns when someone comes to donate a full shopping cart: “I also went to the Food Bank, but I came back on top, hence this.”

“You know, as good as you are now, tomorrow may be different. We are here for the people who really need it. Not everyone is entitled to a packed lunch. If you receive a packed lunch, a process starts immediately to make sure you get back on track.After three years you have to stand on your own two feet again.We once started with 90 packs and are now on about 150 packs a week, corona has partly caused that increase.We will definitely also notice “Because of the growing demand and because supermarkets are preventing food waste, it is more difficult to have enough stock. That is why we organize fundraising campaigns in supermarkets a few times a year.”

The new chairman, Rob Kuipers, has lived in Voorburg for 35 years and will take office in June. “From my Rotary club Voorburg-Vliet, I participated in fundraising campaigns in local supermarkets several times. The social gain at the Food Bank is clear to me. It’s a shame it should be, but it’s great that it can be done! In the coming months, I will try to get to know the Food Bank as an organization and the people who work there better. I also want to explore the administrative environment: food banks in the Netherlands, the municipality and the cooperation in the region. I think it is important that we know where we can find each other and where we need each other. ”

And what does Nan do then? “I do not want to sit still! I created the ‘Huygens Bridge Tour’ and led it for seven years. About 100 people play bridge at six locations in Herenstraat. It’s its tenth year, and it’s still raising around € 2,000 for charity each time. In the meantime, I’ve set up a new bridge tournament in the area, a little smaller this time. I’m always busy like that, and it does not stop! ”

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