VLAARDINGEN – In 2006, the year when the Food Bank Vlaardingen started, there were around 30 customers at the start. There are now (almost) around 214 households in Vlaardingen going to the food bank’s distribution points every week, and behind these numbers are hundreds of Vlaardingers who cannot manage without the weekly packages. Although the Food Bank is not yet growing at the seams, it was in need of renewal. In the past year, they have been looking for a new building from which to work, and also to be able to establish a new vision: from a collection point to a retail formula.
A new building was recently found at Van Baerlestraat 99, where until the bankruptcy last year Dike group with a care service and a shop. The food bank’s board and volunteers were the first to talk to the owner of the building, and decisions were made quickly. This was also possible because the municipality not only guaranteed a significant amount, but also provided the subsidy to pay the rent. “And a little on top of that to do other things with,” said Leo van Houwelingen, chairman of the Vlaardingen Food Bank, at the opening of the new shelter this afternoon.
Van Houwelingen briefly outlined the development of the Vlaardingen Food Bank, whereby Vlaardingen is now no branch office in Rotterdam, but runs completely independently. The products now come from a distribution center that is supplied by various large parties and, in addition, various social institutions, churches, supermarkets and individuals give generously to fill the store’s shelves. Because from 12 January it is no longer possible to pick up from boxes and transfer them to the bike bag for the Food Bank’s customers; on that date, customers will be able to shop with a shopping cart, assisted by volunteers from the Food Bank. Don’t just wait and see what’s in the box and sometimes throw things out, buy yourself. “A formula that can take into account taste or diet,” said the board of the Vlaardingen Food Bank. It has some of Social Super Van Lopik then at Vetteoordskade, which started big in 2017 and already a year later was bankrupt with a lot of debt and many duped customers. The Food Bank, on the other hand, works with a different form of financing and subsidies and has already entered into a ten-year lease. Thanks also to Schiedam Vlaardingen eo Fund, which provides the social and economic cement throughout society to keep institutions such as the Food Bank and many other facilities up and running.
Today, after months of hard work, there was at least an opportunity to come and see it all for yourself before the first customers can go there on 12 January. In many cases this hesitation and shame had to be overcome in order to appeal for this kind of assistance. How and whether this retail formula will pan out remains to be seen, and adjustments may need to be made in the first phase. For example, time slots where customers are assigned will be used. Twenty households can be helped per hour, but how exactly will it work? Do you miss it if you are assigned at the end of the day and if you want to grab two bags of chips because you have several children at home, is that allowed? Time will tell.
The person who confidently gave the final push this afternoon was Councilor Arnoud Proos, who in his speech expressed the hope that the Food Bank would not grow, unlike the average businesses in Vlaardingen, which he wants this to be. Together with Leo van Houwelingen, Proos unveiled a commemorative plaque with the names of all sponsors and grant givers.