Nutritious food for everyone!

Paula bij Voedselbank Leiden

Fresh vegetables, a welcome addition in nutritious foods for Voedselbank Leiden

Paula van Kesteren, former board member of Voedselbank Leiden: “It all started with an idea from Ekklesia Leiden. They wanted to do something for customers of De Voedselbank, which we are obviously thrilled about! We aim to provide fresh and healthy food for everyone, but there aren’t always enough fresh vegetables available. Gradually, a plan was formed to harvest vegetables at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei. This resulted in a wonderful collaboration, and the amount of freshly harvested vegetables we received weekly kept growing. Now, for the fourth year in a row, our customers are enjoying a welcome addition of fresh vegetables alongside the harvest from our own garden, De Bontekoe.”


Harvested especially for you

“It is wonderful for our customers to receive these high-quality vegetables. Normally, they get fresh produce that is on the edge of being consumable or no longer consumable. Products that no one really wants anymore. The beautiful fresh vegetables they now receive from the garden make a huge difference. They are extra tasty, nutritious, and contribute to our customers’ sense of self-worth,” Paula explains.

The weekly harvest is distributed on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. “Tuesday is always extra special. We can tell our customers that the vegetables were freshly harvested that morning, just for them by the volunteers of Stichting De Groentedeler. People really appreciate this!”

However, new customers often need to get used to all those fresh vegetables. Vegetables straight from the land. Vegetables that, although rinsed, may still have some soil on them. A variety of vegetables that are not always found in the supermarket and may be unfamiliar to them.

Overall, the customers of Voedselbank Leiden are delighted that the harvest season has started again. They eagerly await the fresh vegetables each week.


What to do with unknown vegetables?

Introducing new vegetables from the garden can be challenging sometimes. After all, what do you do with vegetables you don’t know? Since customers of Voedselbank Leiden can choose their products themselves, unknown vegetables are often less taken than familiar ones. Usually not because they don’t want to try them, but because people don’t know how to prepare them.

“The garden vegetables can taste very different from what people are used to. Often they find the vegetables incredibly tasty, but sometimes they try something, and it doesn’t taste as expected. With vegetables new to our customers, we often get questions about preparations. To assist our customers, the Nutrition Centre initially wrote recipes for five types of (less known) vegetables. Simple preparation methods that don’t require a pantry full of spices or extra ingredients. This way, our customers can try and experiment with these delicious new vegetables.”


Voedselbank 2

A perspective for the future of De Voedselbank

Looking forward, Paula indicates that more vegetables are always welcome. Annually, about 600 households rely on Voedselbank Leiden. They receive food for four days a week, with fresh vegetables available for two days. “This means there are still plenty of opportunities for expansion in the future. Maybe at De Bontekoe, maybe at Zelfoogsttuin Bij Mei, or maybe from a new garden.”

Although an increase in fresh vegetables for De Voedselbank is highly welcome, Paula can also imagine this project being spread out more broadly. “It’s great that De Groentedeler became a foundation. This provides the opportunity for fundraising and means you can do even more for other people.”

We can surely conclude that harvesting fresh vegetables for people with less to spend is a success. Like Paula, we can imagine a similar project starting in other cities across the country.


Help to share vegetables

Are you curious about the various ways to support Stichting De Groentedeler and Voedselbank Leiden? Click here.

Thanks to your contribution, whether in the form of a donation or by helping as a volunteer, we can help more and more people to enjoy a healthy diet full of fresh produce.