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1/2 Food banks are flooded with new families: registration freeze is imminent
The number of families that rely on food banks in Brabant has risen by more than a thousand since March. This brings the total to over six thousand. The increase is so great that some food banks are in danger of getting into trouble. Martin de Kok of the food bank in Tilburg and the Brabant distribution center in that city is concerned.
They notice at the food banks that many families can no longer make ends meet due to the sky-high inflation. When war broke out in Ukraine in March, some 4,900 Brabant households received a food package. In October there were more than 6,000 and many food banks believe the number will continue to rise.
“We fear a registration freeze.”
Martin de Kok already had a gloomy view of the situation in October. At that time, the counter of the food bank in Tilburg was still at 772 households, but there are already 870. “We are afraid that we will have to put a stop on registration, but try to postpone that moment as long as possible.”
The maximum capacity in Tilburg is about a thousand households, but De Kok wants to stretch that as far as possible so that they can continue to help everyone. “But it is going very fast now and nobody knows when and where it will stop.”
“The threshold is higher here, but the safety net is also larger.”
The number of clients is also approaching the maximum at the food bank in the municipality of Altena. That is 125 households there, says Gert Schemers. “We do see that the increase is much greater in cities. In villages, the threshold to go to the food bank is higher, but the social safety net is also larger here. If families are in need, neighbors or churches, for example, step in. “
Omroep Brabant made a tour of all food banks in Brabant and asked about the number of households they help. Three food banks did not share figures. Not every municipality has its own food bank, residents then have to rely on surrounding food banks.
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Despite the influx of clients, many food banks in Brabant are not thinking about a registration freeze. “But maybe packages are getting smaller,” says Thijs Verhees from Breda. “As long as we have food, we distribute it. The main question is how much food we have to buy if there is no longer enough free gift to us.”
“There’s less left for us.”
We are not there yet, but supermarkets are donating less food and drink these days. “They are also busy with food waste and sell products that are close to the date at a discount. That means there is less left for us,” explains Peter van Veelen of the food bank in Moerdijk. Where bakers sometimes baked a little extra, this is not happening now because of the high energy prices.
Several food banks indicate that there are also more tensions when distributing the packages. “That’s because people are under pressure due to constant money worries,” says De Kok. Volunteers sometimes get angry reactions and in Tilburg the police had to be called in a few times.
“We need more time to distribute everything.”
The food bank in Tilburg and the supermarket Super Social in Helmond will soon be open five days a week. “Otherwise we won’t get it distributed,” says Martin de Kok from Tilburg. In Helmond, the building is even being renovated and an extra cash register is being installed to help everyone.
Almost all food banks now see people with a job, seniors with an old-age pension and even a pension, but also young two-earners knocking for help. “And then January and February are yet to come, months in which often fewer products come our way,” says De Kok. “I’m already worried about that.”