The threshold for the food bank may be lowered this week

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More and more people are struggling with water, but cannot yet go to the food bank. Food banks in the Netherlands will therefore decide on Saturday whether the threshold for a lunch box should be lowered, says vice-president Tom Hillemans from Food Banks Netherlands.

To decide whether you can collect a packed lunch, your income minus your fixed costs is looked at: How much money is left for food, clothes and sports. Are you, for example, a single parent with two children and have less than 450 euros left? Then you are right now entitled to a packed lunch.

This amount is revised every year and increases by an average of 10 to 20 euros. The food banks already want to adjust the amount, shows a tour of NOS in food banks throughout the country. It has everything to do with the explosively rising cost of living, which means that more and more people are no longer able to make ends meet. “We expect more and more working people and also double incomes,” says volunteer Frans Hoogland from the food bank in Leeuwarden.

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Whether they can handle this increasing demand remains to be seen. The supply of products is decreasing, among other things, due to anti-waste campaigns and companies becoming more sustainable. “Packages are already getting smaller. From an average of 40 products to 35 to 30 in a package. And the slice of five has not been possible for a long time,” says Han Neef, coordinator of the food bank West Friesland. The number of customers there has already increased by 10 percent compared to last year.

Miriam Hemelsoet started the food bank in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen 16 years ago. “Back then with six packages a week. Now we distribute 650 packages a week.” She also expects an increase and sees more and more jobs. “The majority are still singles, but with the energy bills we can also expect families and couples with two incomes.”

The largest food bank, with 1949 customers, is located in Rotterdam. “We see a growth of 3.7 percent compared to August last year. It is not extreme. But we are always behind the drum with numbers,” says board member Helma Cup. People first go through a process with the assistance before they actually receive a food package. “In two months there could be a big increase, we can assume that.”

On 30 June, 34,000 households in the Netherlands depended on a food bank. The next count is at the end of this year. According to Hillemans, the number of registrations has increased again, but the deputy chairman cannot yet say how many more have knocked on the door of the food bank since the summer.

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Miriam Hemelstoet from the food bank Terneuzen believes that many more people will soon be able to get a package.

‘Not being hungry is a basic right’

A meeting is planned for 29 September between Food Banks Holland and Minister Carola Schouten for poverty policy. The food banks want more money to collect products. They do not buy products themselves, but recruiting and distributing products will cost more if more people knock on the door.

In the coming years, the Netherlands will receive 413 million euros from the European Social Fund (ESF) to support people in a vulnerable employment position and to fight poverty. Food banks Holland wants to call for food aid from this fund. However, it is 15 million euros spread over six years, and several organizations can register.

“I don’t need to tell you that this never covers the charge,” says chairman Leo Wijnveld. “We are actually doing the work that the government is neglecting. Not to be hungry, to have food at home, that is a basic right.”

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