Due to high inflation, food banks are busier than ever. Can they still handle the demand and what if you need help too? We asked what you wanted to know about food banks. Tom Hillemans from Food Banks Holland answers.
1. How many people does the food bank currently distribute packages to?
“There are 172 food banks affiliated with the umbrella organization Voedselbanken Nederland, in more than 95 percent of the municipalities there is a food bank affiliated with us. We help a total of around 120,000 people with food parcels every week.”
“We are seeing a significant increase this year, since January 1 the number of people we are helping has increased by 30 percent. Most of that increase has been in the last 2, 3 months. We are now seeing the effects of high inflation and energy prices are really reflected in the number of people knocking on our door.”
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2. What if the food bank can no longer meet the high demand?
“The food banks actually have two goals: to help people with food aid and to prevent food waste. We have noticed for some time that we get less food donated because the supermarkets and industry are also busy fighting food waste.”
“In principle, the food banks do not buy food and drink themselves. It is also impossible, because the total value of the products that we distribute annually is 130 million euros. But it was recently decided at the members’ meeting that if there really is no other option, food will still be purchased from food banks.”
“Fortunately, this is not yet happening on a large scale, because we still have enough food for this year to be able to help everyone. This is thanks, among other things, to extra donations from the food industry on top of their regular donations. So we don’t have to deal with waiting lists or smaller packages.”
3. When are you entitled to receive help from the food bank?
“The food banks use their own criterion, which we call the ‘living amount’. That amount is 190 euros per household plus 110 euros per person. For a single person, you then arrive at 300 euros per month, for a family with two children. the limit of 630 euros per month.”
“To determine the housing amount, we look at the income in a household and then subtract the fixed costs. Then there is an amount left over for groceries, clothes, but also for e.g. the sports club and social activities. Households that have less above the subsistence allowance is entitled to help from the food bank.”
4. Is there a financial check before you can go to the food bank?
“When people knock on the door of the food bank, we help them immediately. Only in the following months do we look at the financial situation to determine if a household actually qualifies.”
“We only provide food aid, while there are often many things that make people need help. Our volunteers therefore have good contact with neighboring teams, so that other emergency workers can be called in. We help people, but we expect that someone will subsequently also working to get out of this situation: no package without a project.”
5. Are you obliged to report help from the food bank to benefit agencies?
“I don’t really know, but we actually never hear from people who get help from the food bank that they get into trouble with their benefits as a result. I just wanted to report it to the relevant authorities, because then you’re never wrong. .”