By Bonnie Klap, Editor in Chief.
It is no doubt astonishing to many that in a wealthy country like The Netherlands, a country contributing one of the highest percentages of its GDP in the world to Foreign Aid, more than one million of its own people live in relative poverty. The sad truth is that, due to a variety of reasons, one of which is of course the economic crisis, the incomes of these people are below a certain marker for poverty . Thirty-five thousand families comprising of 85,000 persons in total are, at times, not able to put enough food on the table. Fortunately there is “Voedselbank Nederland,” ( Foodbank Netherlands), a non-profit organization with 8300 hardworking volunteers, all dedicated to help these people feed their families. Founded in 2002 this organization works together with food companies, who donate food products which would otherwise be discarded. For instance foods, of which the ’sell-by date’ on the package has expired, but are otherwise perfectly edible, are donated to the voedselbank. The benefits are clearly twofold: feeding a family in need and preventing the squandering of food and resources. Every Monday the food companies communicate with the Voedselbank informing them which foods are going to be donated, leaving the 8300 volunteers to the complicated task of compiling a foodbasket containing a variety of quality, preferably healthy foods. It is yet another example of the importance of volunteers. Increasingly a wide array of support and services in The Netherlands rely on volunteers – either part-time or full-time – to operate. Indeed, without volunteers the Diplomat Magazine would not exist! Even the Dutch Royal couple, King Willem Alexander and his charming wife Queen Maxima, are convinced of the importance of volunteer work and strive to give a good example. Despite their busy schedules, they can be seen doing volunteer work from time to time. Fortunately, there is quite an impressive number of volunteers in The Netherlands, but there is always a need for a few more. Food for thought.