More and more people turn to the food bank. Therefore, four large Dutch food producers have decided to donate more food. Young people are also forced to use the food bank. Wolf (25) is one of them. Because he wants to break taboos and remove shame, he shares his story with NU.nl.
Wolf lives in an anti-squat in Groningen. He was forced to stop his studies at the end of last year because he could not keep up with the pace. Both his physical and mental health deteriorated.
Despite wanting nothing more than to focus on his recovery, Wolf has been on a waiting list for psychological help for more than ten months. His student scholarship and loan ended after he dropped out of school. Due to his mental state, work is not an option at the moment.
Wolf shares his experiences in the food bank on TikTok.
You have posted a video on TikTok saying that you are going to the food bank. You show what you got there and tell something about it. Why did you choose to make that video?
“In my videos I tell what I do, experience, think, wear and eat. I do this deliberately because I hope that people can identify with my story and, for example, feel less lonely. The video about the food bank felt logical , because I used to make vlogs about my grocery shopping. I want to be honest and break taboos, show that you don’t have to be ashamed when you go to the food bank. Although it was very exciting to share this.”
You got a lot of reactions to your video. What does it do to you?
“Most people are nice and grateful, some even look up to me because I do this. I think that’s cool, because last year I didn’t think I would dare to do this. But there are also people who react less nicely or unsolicited. give their opinion.”
When did you get into financial trouble?
“After I stopped studying, the school and my neighborhood team helped me to apply for social assistance. Until recently, I was doing fine because my fixed costs are low. Since my gas bill has increased from 90 to 200 euros, I had nothing left. An unexpected bill got me in trouble.”
What did you do when you couldn’t pay the bills?
“I panicked and knocked on my neighborhood again. While looking at my finances, it turned out that I qualify for the food bank because I can’t pay for my basic needs. We applied together.”
Since when do you go to the food bank?
“For a month, and I can go there at least until February. I go once a week on a fixed day and a fixed time.”
How does such a food bank visit work?
“You stand in line and as soon as it’s your turn, you are assigned a cart and a volunteer. Together you go through a kind of supermarket. Per shelf and per product, it is indicated how much you can take with you. different rules than for me. Based on the offer, you put together what you want.”
And how is it?
“First time I went without groceries. I had no idea how it worked, didn’t know what to do and was overwhelmed by everything going on around me. The crowds made me panic. Next time it was better, but it remains unpleasant and difficult.”
“Being one of the few young people makes me feel out of place.”
What makes it difficult?
“I’m one of the few young people. It makes me feel out of place, like I have less right to it than families or elders. But it’s really my thing, I don’t feel like they’re criticizing me. It’s more other people.”
“Especially people who don’t have financial problems themselves have a hard time understanding how I got into this situation. Sometimes they judge certain expenses that I make, such as nail polish or toys, as thrifty. They compare me to themselves or with other people they know who go to the food bank. While our relationship is probably not comparable. I really think a hundred times before I buy anything.”
What would you say to young people who also go to the food bank?
“Help is there to be taken, you don’t need to be ashamed of it. You are not alone.”
And against young people who don’t go?
“If you don’t have financial problems yourself, don’t judge someone too quickly. You don’t know anyone’s situation. And if you also have money problems: seek help. Go to a neighborhood group that is there for everyone. There are specialists, who can help you. can help. You don’t have to do it alone.”
Food bank in the Netherlands
- Food banks help around 40,000 families every week.
- There are around 172 food banks in the Netherlands. Almost all large to medium-sized municipalities have at least one food bank.
- Food banks depend on donations from citizens, companies and organisations.
- Food banks also offer products for personal care.