Each year the average Dutch consumer throws away approximately €155 or 50 kilos of uneaten food. This means a staggering €2,5 billion euros worth of uneaten food thrown away by Dutch consumers. Billion. In addition to that, the hospitality sector, supermarkets, and wholesalers discard €2 billion. When you add these numbers up, roughly 14% of all food purchased in the Netherlands is thrown away - uneaten and with an increasing population it’s safe to say that those figures will increase unless we do something about it. The Dutch Government has already taken the first step by committing to reducing the rate of food wastage but we’ve all got to do our parts.
Here at The Cold Pressed Juicery we’re doing our part by giving cold pressed juices to Voedselbank Amsterdam. The Voedselbank (Food bank) is a non-profit organisation that collects food from donors and distributes them to people in need. Every Friday, approximately 4.000 individuals, 1.800 of which are under 18, go to various pick-up points of the Voedselbank for a weekly parcel of food donated by individuals and companies. We’re always looking for ways to give back to the community so we decided to get involved with the Voedselbank because of their two objectives - fighting food wastage and helping people who need it with direct aid.
We want everyone to have access to vitamins and nutrients. For the Voedselbank, we freeze the juice at -18 degrees celsius. This keeps all of the vitamins and nutrients intact and is preservable for up to two months. Once the juice is frozen, it is picked up by the Voedselbank and given out to individuals and families during the weekly parcel delivery at the one of the 13 pick up points in Amsterdam. All they have to do is let the juice defrost and enjoy the vitamins, nutrients, and Cold Pressed goodness.
We spoke to Bienja Jense who is responsible for food recruitment for more insight into the Voedselbank and the good that it’s been doing and continues to do for Amsterdammers. Bienja has been with the Voedselbank for three years after she saw an article about them in the Dutch newspaper, Het Parool. She liked the fact that they had two concrete objectives - fighting food wastage and helping people in need with direct aid. In those three years, the focus has been less on food recruitment and more on fund procurement. When she started there was always a shortage of food and now thankfully they don’t have that problem as more business and individuals want to contribute.
When asked about what type of donation is most needed, volunteers, or funds, Bienja said funds first, structured volunteers second, and food third. Although the Voedselbank receives subsidies from the municipality of Amsterdam, the funds are not enough. As it stands, they need €240,000 for the rest of 2016. The Voedselbank also wants to become more independent because they never know when the subsidies will stop. Bienja said that the Voedselbank hopes to expand, not in the number of clients, but in regards to offering more fresh and healthy food and being able to cater to different dietary needs like diabetes and other illnesses that require a specific diet. Bienja calls this a more human alternative.
Her proudest moments were when they founded the Voedsel brigade, a food bus that drives through Amsterdam every day. Bienja’s least favourite thing is the fact that they work mainly with volunteers who come and go which makes the professionalisation a bit hard in terms of effectiveness and efficiency which is important because they have to be able to offer brand image security to the donors.
We visited the Voedselbank during one of the weekly pick-ups and had the opportunity to meet some of their clients who were very excited about trying our cold pressed juice in addition to their weekly supply of things like grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and even vitamin supplements. We also had the opportunity to meet some of their dedicated staff like Coen who took care of the organisation and made sure everything ran smoothly. He also took the time to explain the entire distribution process to us and had us handing out bananas by the boatload. It felt really good to give up a few hours of our time to do something good for our fellow earth dwellers and this definitely won’t be the last time!
If you’d like to give back by donating time or money, head to the Voedselbank’s website www.amsterdam.voedselbankennederland.nl to see how you can help them make a difference in Amsterdam by fighting food waste and helping people in need.