Icon Jo stops as depository holder of Noordenveldse Food Bank

Jo Schoormans said goodbye today as depository holder of the Food Bank in Roden. Although the unassuming volunteer considers it too much of an honor, her farewell marks the end of an era.

Reluctantly, she receives an official farewell. “I’m just a volunteer, like everyone else,” says Jo. “But the rest wanted to arrange a get-together. Well, fine.”

“We started with nothing. If you look at where we are now…” Pride is the dominant word when Jo looks back on 17 turbulent years. Years when she experienced a fire and saw how the Food Bank only became more important. A bad sign, actually, because in an ideal world it shouldn’t even be necessary.

Fulfillment in your life

It all started for her in 2005, when the then Platform Minima consulted residents of Noordenveld municipality with a small grant about what was needed in the municipality. “Everything happened,” says Jo. “A clothing bank, for example. But it was first decided to set up a Food Bank. Food is the first need.”

Jo had signed up because she wanted to do something for society. She had a dairy farm with her husband André. “Then you have time left and you look for meaning in your life. Poverty was already increasing in Holland at that time. I wanted to make myself useful to people who had little to use.”

Started in garage

And then it happened. Jo joined the board of what was later to be officially called the Food Bank. It all started on Kanaalstraat – in an old garage. “It was a bar and old building,” Jo recalls. “There was nothing. We did the first track at the end of 2005. Too many people came.”

In the local media there had been an appeal to those entitled to social assistance to come. There were quite a few. “Immediately after the first time, we started a screening. We’re still doing that now.”

pitch black day

In 2019, the old garage burned down. “It was the 8th of November, I remember it well,” says Jo. “It was a pitch black day. Even the day of the broadcast. Suddenly we saw black smoke coming up. The neighbor had a fire and we had to get out quickly.”

From a safe distance, the volunteers saw how the Food Bank was completely reduced to ashes. “The customers were crying at the gate, it was very sad. That image stays with me to this day.”

From pillar to post

After the fire, a violent period began for the Food Bank’s volunteers. The current location (the multi-tenant building at Ceintuurbaan Noord 122) was not yet available to the Food Bank. “We moved a lot during that time. We dragged things from here to there, and that in the winter.”

According to Jo, the Food Bank could carry out the distribution ‘with any effort’. With her husband André as one of the tireless driving forces. “I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without my husband. He continues as a volunteer at the Food Bank,” says the native of Brabant.

The food bank has found an excellent location in CBN 122 (as the joint building is called), with enough space for storage and distribution. The customers are not visible and waiting to enter, which is nice for them. It is worrying that the number of customers has more than doubled compared to the old location on Kanaalstraat. “We’re seeing more and more people getting into trouble,” Jo said.

‘We can handle it’

Richard Coenrady, the current chairman of the Noordenveldse Food Bank, praises Jo’s efforts. “She was and is the driving force behind the many issues,” he says. “She was available day and night for the Food Bank. Fortunately, we can continue to use her knowledge and skills in the years to come. She will remain as an advisor.”

The step back is ‘very much a given’ for Jo. “Now she is handing over the baton. It is easier said than done, because for her it is as if you have to let go of your children. But the Food Bank is in good hands.”

Jo doesn’t doubt it herself. “I am very proud of these volunteers. Not only that they have stayed with me for so long, but also that they are ready for what is to come. A new corona wave perhaps or the extra people who come to the Food Bank due to the crisis. We can handle it.”

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