Conny is a volunteer at the Food Bank: ‘More and more people from Gouwen are signing up to get help’

Did you know that 1 million people in the Netherlands live below the poverty line? In the Food Bank, volunteers distribute food to people who need it most. Conny Schouten (78) has worked at the location in Gouda for twelve years: “We see an increase in households that need our help”.

Anyone who visits the Food Bank at the North Pole in Gouda will recognize Conny immediately. She does voluntary work two days a week and knows the ins and outs of the Gouda department. “I am in charge of the administration and work with the customers,” she says. “That’s what I enjoy doing the most, the contact with people. It is very nice and useful work.”

Fill your own shopping cart

Much has changed in the twelve years that Conny has worked at the Food Bank. “We were first on Stationsplein in an old building, but we had to leave,” she says. “We moved to Nordpol 2 in May this year.”

This new location offers new opportunities. “We used to make ready-made packages for people. These often contained products that customers did not like or were redundant. It’s a shame. At the new location, people can largely choose which products to take with them and fill their own shopping basket. This is much more humane.”

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Open extra day

The food bank in Gouda is also open for two days. “Before the pandemic, we were only open for one day,” says Conny. “Sometimes there were whole lines of people coming to pick up a package. Due to corona, we now work with time locks so that customers no longer have to stand in queues.”

According to Conny, these adjustments were much needed. “More and more people from Gouwen are signing up for help. In the last three weeks I have had over thirty new signups and four in the last hour. Groceries are getting more and more expensive, everything is getting more expensive. As a result, people are left with less. I expect an even greater increase in the coming months.”

Number of households

In the region, 278 households are dependent on the Food Bank, which corresponds to around 430 people, according to the Food Bank. “The increase is mainly a result of high inflation, the sharply increased energy prices, the consequences of corona and the increasing influx of refugees. The national expectation is that the number of households in need will increase further in the coming autumn and winter months, because they will still run into problems,’ says a spokesperson for the Food Bank.

To donate

Conny therefore encourages Gouwenaars to donate. “We had a successful fundraising campaign with Albert Heijn at the beginning of September,” she says. A total of 375 boxes of food were collected, which is more than the previous year. However, the stock is shrinking again because the throughput rate is high. “At the moment we mainly need diapers,” says Conny. “But any kind of donation is welcome.” Read here how you can help >

The Food Bank

There are 171 food banks throughout the Netherlands. The food banks help those who are really struggling financially by temporarily giving them food aid. To this end, they work together with companies, institutions, municipalities and private individuals.

When am I entitled to the Food Bank?

The food banks help people who are temporarily unable to support themselves. Whether you are entitled to help from the food bank depends on how much you have left over for food and drink each month. In short, it works like this: they add up all the revenue and subtract the fixed costs from it. Think, for example, of rent, water and electricity. The remaining amount is for groceries and clothes. Is this amount lower than the ‘standard amount’ of 300 euros? Then you qualify. In the Food Bank, 300 euros is the standard amount for a single person without children.

You can use a simple calculator to calculate whether you are eligible for the Food Bank.

How do I request help?

If you want to use the Food Bank, you can contact an aid agency, such as Social Team Gouda. This determines whether you can claim a packed lunch. You cannot request a packed lunch at the Food Bank yourself.

[Bron: Voedselbankennederland.nl en Voedselbankgouda.nl]

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