Much hidden poverty on Texel: “Better bread every day than going to the food bank”

Anyone who thinks there is no poverty on Texel with a thriving tourism is wrong. The last few weeks have been busy at the food bank. Volunteers work hard to assemble the packages before Christmas. And then there is a bonus for the more than 30 participants in the form of a Christmas package. “We think many more people are in trouble. Texel is a small municipality. But people are ashamed to knock on our door,” says volunteer Marielle Aubertijn.

Volunteers Marielle Aubertijn and Marianne Bonne sort the contents of the packages. – NH News

The holidays are special for the volunteers at the Texel food bank. Preparations are busy for them, where the packages are carefully put together in the Red Cross building in Den Burg. A different composition for each participant. It could be a family that depends on donations from the food bank. But also an elderly Texel resident who no longer leaves the house.

“Many older people are ashamed that they can barely cope,” says Marielle. “They would rather eat bread every day than pick up a bag full of groceries.” We keep track of what the wishes are and who gets what. Many believe that due to the booming tourism there are no problems on the island. The opposite is true. “I think that the incomes on Texel are below the national average,” says volunteer Marianne Bonne right from the start. “That’s because there’s a lot of low-skilled work.”

A quarter more people

Many are now signing up for the food bank. “We have had growth of at least 25 percent in recent months,” says Marielle between the companies. “People still have work in the summer, but it drops in the winter months. And then they come to us.”

Not only sick people, but also working people have problems keeping their heads above water. “Some work both, but the costs are too high for them. If you both work for minimum wage, it’s not a lot of money.” Families from abroad also turn to the food bank. “These are often large families, for example from Syria. They are only on Texel at the time, but the economy is not immediately in order. And they are not allowed to work yet.”

“A divorce, alcoholism or domestic violence: the reasons for turning to the food bank are different”

Volunteer Marielle Aubertijn

The reasons why people knock on the door of the food bank are different. “We talk about participants because we think clients sound negative. They may have to come to the food bank because of a divorce, but also because of alcoholism or domestic violence.” The latter occurred mainly during the corona period, according to Marielle. “They were all at home then and couldn’t go anywhere. The kids couldn’t go to school then either. It creates tension.”

Even if a couple separates, it sometimes causes financial problems. “For example, if the alimony is not paid on time. And sometimes there is a long battle to be able to receive alimony at all. Especially if children are involved, it is a drama. Or the house has to be sold and then you are left with a residual debt.”

But there can also be other economic reasons. Think about the backlog of tax payments. “People still get an additional assessment of thousands of euros that they didn’t expect. Then it becomes difficult to manage on a few hundred euros a month.”

Everything is carefully sorted in the Texel food bank. – NH News

Nationally, Texel has a small food bank, but this does not mean that there is no poverty on the island. “There definitely is,” Marielle continues. “We see that all around us.”

It is estimated that on the island of Texel many more families meet the criteria to be eligible for a weekly food parcel. However, only some of them actually send an application. According to Marielle, it is a challenge to get more people from this target group into the picture and get them to send in an application.

Shielded

“The participants are usually forwarded by social work. But then you are also screened and you also have to provide insight into the economy. And not everyone wants that. We recently had a promotion where people could pick up a package for free , without registering. in advance for social work. It was, as strange as it sounds, a great success. Then it is not checked whether people need the packages. But we assume the honesty of the Texelians.”

“There are a lot of sick people. They email us because they can no longer cope because of their illness.”

Volunteer Marielle Aubertijn

According to Marielle, the increase in participants is due to the fact that the cost of living has become more expensive. Other costs are also rising. “Healthcare costs are rising, but so is the price of energy. It has an effect on the household ledger. There are many sick people. They suffer from the consequences of lung covid, for example. They email us because they can no longer make ends meet because of their disease.”

donations

Volunteer Dwight Penha regularly drives to the national depot in Amsterdam to collect items. “Of course we are happy with the many donations. But here we collect the things for Texel. And I also drive across the island to collect things from other suppliers that we can use in the packages.”

The fact that people receive an allowance of 190 euros from their energy supplier also benefits the food bank. “Many Texel citizens have put this amount into our account because they didn’t need it. Or recently there was an elderly man who came in here with an envelope. He said: I don’t need it. And then you see later that there are 400 euros in the envelope.”

Holidays

During the conversation, many Texel residents come in to deliver something before the holidays. A woman brings 30 Christmas breads and an elderly man personally delivers some small groceries. The local butcher Simon Dros and former director of Texelse Courant Rene de Lange are also at the door. They come with nine boxes of fresh meat. “Roulade, chicken fillet, minced meat, rib steak and steak”, sums up Rene. “This is the third time I sponsor each year. Previously it was fish, but I can no longer afford that. That’s why I bought meat for a few thousand euros.”

He has a special story about his generosity. “My father wanted to become a missionary, but it didn’t quite work out,” he says with a smile. “But he set up two schools and a hospital in a mission country. Maybe I have a little bit of his genes. I like to do that.”

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