PUTTING It is common knowledge that the Food Bank delivers food to people who need it most, but the Food Bank Harderwijk – Ermelo – Putten has many more items in its range.
General coordinator Antoinette Walenberg explains: “In addition to food, it is less well known that the Food Bank also issues items such as sanitary pads, detergents, shampoo, shower cream, deodorant and also nappies. We collect these products and when we have about two hundred of them, they are issued. Most products work, but we really have a big shortage of nappies.” “Especially sizes five and six,” adds co-coordinator Paul Combee.
Together with Hans van Hemel, voluntary distribution in Putten, they are preparing the Friday distribution of Harderwijk this day. “This concerns about a hundred families who come over two distribution days,” says Antoinette. “They must then be registered with us. So you can’t just call here. This registration can be done through twenty-five different agencies, such as administrators or (debt) counsellors. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws, there are also people who are caught between two stools. They are entitled to the Food Bank, but they are too ashamed to use it.”
“After registration, we always make a home visit to review the financial household together, and only with the customer’s permission. Whether you are entitled to help depends on how much you have left over for food and drink each month. We add up all income and subtract the fixed costs. Think about rent, water and electricity. There is then an amount left over for groceries and clothes. If this is lower than our ‘standard amount’ we are happy to help. The customers can then visit us once a week.”
Antoinette: “For example, there are customers who are under administration. An administrator then manages income and expenses and arranges all financial matters. The customer then only receives an amount of, for example, fifty euros a living allowance per week. But they really have to pay for all that. Swimming lessons for the children, clothes, a bus ticket… But with the current inflation and the skyrocketing energy bills, it’s almost impossible. So, for example, you initially had an energy bill of 80 euros, which suddenly rises to 360 euros. Since September last year, the food banks in the Netherlands have adjusted the admission criteria. Normally, any adjustments do not come until January, but given the current situation, we were forced to do it earlier. Now people with a job, for example, are also allowed to join if they can’t make it. Unfortunately for them, there are more and more.”
Antoinette continues: “The food bank is not a supermarket where you order new packs of coffee as soon as the old ones are gone. Fortunately, we have donors and sponsors who help us regularly. We are happy with everything. I would like to mention the churches. Their support is really huge. Without this support, it is almost impossible for us to do our work well. But schools, associations, private individuals and companies also help us. Many clients have pets, so don’t underestimate the positive impact a dog or cat can have on such a family. A school once collected money so that we could buy boxes full of dog and cat food. Onions and apples sometimes come from the polder. Another fun project: The care farm De Sternhof is located in Zeewolde, where they like to grow vegetables. We then sponsor them with seeds and receive, for example, fresh leeks or snow peas in return. This is how we help each other.”
FREE AT CAMP
“Someone wanted to organize something for children. However, we may not share addresses. But in consultation you can of course make a flyer with notices about a free children’s camp. We will then make families with children aware of this. Organizations such as Rotary also often organize sponsorship campaigns, the proceeds of which sometimes go to us. Last Christmas, for example, there was a butcher who donated chicken to the Food Bank. But a couple from Ermelo, who wished to remain anonymous, also donated fifty euros to all the Food Bank’s customers!
“The reason for supporting the Food Bank is often that it is about local help, i.e. for fellow residents of your own municipality. We support people from Harderwijk, Ermelo and Putten who are having a hard time. With us, nothing sticks to the convention. We are completely transparent. Neither the board nor the 87 volunteers receive any compensation; everything goes to our customers. And with that, together with other organisations, we try to provide the best possible care for these citizens from the three municipalities.”