Distribution with heart – and a slide rule
Ammelounx‘ colleagues are already busy unloading goods at the car park in front of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Church. Inside, the church is buzzing with activity, but there is also an atmosphere of quiet reflection. 2 rows of tables, each about 40 metres long, are covered with food products, all sorted according to a strict system. The helper in charge of baked goods looks over today’s bounty: she calculates, sorts the items, recalculates and packs bags. ‘It’s only a good day when everyone gets their share.’
Burkhard Schellenberg, who has run the food bank in Garath for the past decade, remembers that it used to be frequented primarily by elderly people. ‘These days, we get people of all ages. Around 60% of those who come to my food bank are refugees.’ The food bank was forced to stop accepting new users as demand surged about 5 years ago. Today, it supplies food to around 8000 people, each of them can pick up a bag once every 14 days. If a user misses 3 pick-up days without giving any reasons, they are removed from the database. This may sound harsh, but it is a necessary measure to ensure that others get a fair chance. The rules are transparent and available in at least 4 languages. Additional day vouchers ensure that nobody is sent away empty-handed.
Additionally the food bank also organises cooking classes to teach its users what to do with the food they are given. Schellenberg says: ‘We experience extraordinary gratitude here. It makes all the hard work, time and responsibility worth it.’ Speaking of time: for Ammelounx, it is time to take the van back to the head office.
Every day is different, but the goal remains the same
At the end of the collection trip, all volunteers meet for lunch – right where they started in the morning: in the kitchen. Ammelounx praises Andrea Schütze’s cooking: ‘It always tastes amazing.’ Every day is different, but the goal never changes: to feed the poor of Düsseldorf. Our reporter is deeply impressed by the commitment of the volunteers and the clear sense of a win-win situation for everyone. Then she wonders: what’s for lunch today? The answer: whatever concoction can be conjured up from the leftovers in the fridge.