Chairman of food bank Apeldoorn Johan Kruithof receives award for 'Apeldoorner of the Year'
Friend of the Wittenborg family Johan Kruithof and former council member is the proud chair of the food bank in Apeldoorn. When asked to fill this new position in 2020, he did not have to think twice and gladly accepted the role: "I said a resounding 'yes' when I was asked for this position because the work of the food bank is close to my heart," says Kruithof.
The food bank is hugely important in ensuring that everyone in Apeldoorn has enough to eat and supports the goal of eliminating hunger. To make this happen, 80 volunteers look after around 300 families, or as Kruithof says, "we have 900 mouths to fill", who would otherwise not have access to enough food. Moreover, they help reduce food waste. This cannot be achieved without the help of others: "Many residents of Apeldoorn, entrepreneurs and individuals, sympathise with the food bank and give large and small donations," Kruithof explains. "This legitimises the food bank's right to exist. We have no subsidy from the municipality. It is the local community that makes our work possible."
That Apeldoorn appreciates the food bank and Kruithof's work was evident when he was named the 2022 "Apeldoorner of the Year". This award is given to a person or organisation that has shown tremendous significance for the city and residents of Apeldoorn. The jury praised the food bank for always offering help and supplies to anyone in need. To underline their importance, the judges gave a donation to support the charity. This is not a regular procedure for the other winners. Kruithof is very happy with the recognition, but also has mixed feelings: "In a perfect world, the food bank should not exist, but the reality is that we are indispensable for many people."
Food banks have gained an increasingly important position within Dutch society. Especially after the Covid crisis and inflation, the number of people in the Netherlands depending on the food bank has grown rapidly. In 2020, it has increased by 7.2%, making a total of more than 160,000 Dutch people going to the local food bank every week. Kruithof also sees this worrying development: "We were always pretty stable at around 240 households calling on us. In a few months, there was a rapid growth to 300 households."
Securing the food bank's future
Johan Kruithof and WUAS go way back. He has been involved with Wittenborg for several years, first as an education councillor and in recent years as a member of the Advisory Board. "For me, Wittenborg is an important pillar in our city's educational offer," he says. "I enjoy watching Wittenborg's developments, currently an International Business Education at a very high level with a wonderful offering, a strongly growing number of students with a great international character and of immense importance for the city of Apeldoorn. It gives the city colour and liveliness."
In 2018, Wittenborg had the honour of welcoming him as a guest speaker at Wittenborg's Winter Graduation Ceremony. He stressed the importance of social activism and shared words of wisdom to the students to stay socially engaged. "So, as you leave here today, think about how you can make a difference in tackling some of the challenges we face. Whether in your community or in your family," he said at the ceremony.
Kruithof hopes to continue his important work for the food bank for many years to come. However, the food bank is in a precarious situation as they have to move because their building will be given another purpose. The contract expires in 2024 and Kruithof is busy looking for a new place for the food bank. He has asked the municipality for help: "We are now investigating the possibilities of a purchase with the municipality. But this is still in the early stages." The municipality has responded, and an appointment has been scheduled. Wittenborg recognises the importance of the food bank and hopes that Johan Kruithof and the municipality come to an agreement so that the charity can continue to help people in Apeldoorn.
by Niels Otterman