Volunteers are working to their limits The region’s food banks are getting fewer donations – but more clients

Rhein-Sieg-Kreis · Rhein-Sieg-Kreis More and more people are queuing up at food distribution points. At the same time, supermarkets are delivering fewer goods. Read about how the food banks at the different locations deal with this situation - and what they need for their work.

 CJD students and helpers from the food bank with Lukas Vreden, coordinator for social engagement at the CJD, bring food to the food bank.

CJD students and helpers from the food bank with Lukas Vreden, coordinator for social engagement at the CJD, bring food to the food bank.

Foto: Frank Homann

Noodles, tomato sauce, soups and a few packets of gingerbread are piled up in four shopping trolleys in the foyer of the Jugenddorf-Christophorusschule in Königswinter (CJD). Young people from the seventh grade have bought food to donate to the food bank, "Die Tafel". "I think it's good that we can use it to support other people who are not doing so well," says pupil Nathalie. Together with her classmates, she pushes the shopping trolleys across the schoolyard to the food bank, which has been located at Cleethorpeser Platz, in the immediate vicinity of the school, since the summer. "The collection campaign is extremely important for us," says Ingrid Saffé from the Tafel Königswinter. Because fewer donations come from supermarkets. This is a development that other food banks in the region are observing.

One reason for this is that supermarkets themselves now often put together bags of sorted out fresh food and sell them for a modest price. "When there is not enough fresh produce, we give out more shelf-stable food," says Saffé. That is why she is grateful for the donations from the CJD, she said.

Since the beginning of November, a class there has been filling the four shopping trolleys every Wednesday. In the past, there was a campaign week for the food bank every year at the CJD, reports Lukas Vreden, coordinator for social engagement at the school. With the relocation of the food bank, the school switched to the weekly offer. "It's a win-win situation. We have less work because we only fill the shopping trolleys. And the food bank gets more and lasting donations from us," says Vreden. Continuity in social commitment is important to him.

A quarter less food for the Troisdorf food bank

This is what many food banks in the region are now hoping for. "Food donations have decreased significantly in the last seven to eight months," says Regina Lunetta, coordinator of the Troisdorf food bank. The organisation, which belongs to the Catholic Association for Social Services in the Rhine-Sieg District (SKM), has to make do with one quarter less. The number of clients, on the other hand, has almost doubled. Above all, refugees from Ukraine are dependent on the donations. "We have already thought about a stop in admissions but have decided against it until now. But if more people come, we will have to stop," says Lunetta.

For Mary Witsch, coordinator of the Tafel Ahrweiler, an admission stop is out of the question now: "We try to share out what we have." The Tafel does receive more donations. However, Witsch has received feedback from the parishes with which she works that less food than usual is being collected before Christmas. She suspects that many people prefer to donate a small amount of money instead of buying food, which has become much more expensive due to inflation.

The situation is different at the food banks run by the Bonn/Rhine-Sieg Workers' Welfare Association (AWO): "Food donations have increased noticeably at the four AWO food banks," says Manuela Klock-Rousselli, who is in charge there. And yet: "The limit has been reached in every respect. To be able to cover the actual demand, we would not only need more food, but also additional premises, vehicles, money as well as numerous additional volunteers," says Barbara König, Managing Director of AWO Bonn/Rhein-Sieg.

Cash donations instead of food

Donations of money, on the other hand, have fared better: Last year, the AWO collected about 117,000 euros, but this year, as of 20 November, it had already collected about 183,000 euros. König says this is partly due to the extensive media coverage of the past months. However, the comparison with the previous year is deceptive, since a large part of the donations in 2021 went to those affected by the flood disaster. About ten percent of the donations from the AWO food banks in Bad Honnef, Hennef, Königswinter and Much come from organisations and companies, about 90 percent from private individuals. A large portion of the food comes from companies.

Lunetta at the Troisdorf Tafel is also happy that the monetary donations have not dwindled in recent months. They are not only needed for cars and electricity and office costs, but now also to buy food. " We are not supposed to buy additional food. But we have no other choice," says Lunetta.

Tafel Sankt Augustin gives out more non-perishable foodstuffs

The food bank in Sankt Augustin also has to buy more food. "Before the Coronavirus pandemic, we had hardly any non-perishable foodstuffs because we received enough fresh produce. Now we have to buy a third of the goods as non-perishable food," reports Michaela Geilich from the Sankt Augustin food bank. She is very happy that at least the monetary donations have increased.

The Rheinbach-Meckenheim Tafel is feeling the effects of rising energy and fuel costs. "But it is within tolerable limits," says Uwe Petersen, Chair of the association. Due to the high demand since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the food bank has extended its distribution times and opened a waiting list. In the meantime, the association serves about 900 people, compared to about 600 in January, Petersen says.

Tafel Siegburg needs donations to pay for a hot food

The Tafel in Siegburg, which is also part of the SKM, now serves between 70 and 100 people - about a year ago it was only 20. The Tafel also offers a hot meal every day. "The lunch costs us 1,200 euros per month, for which we depend on donations," says Christmann. The main source of funding for Siegburg is the Wolfgang Overath Fund: Every year, ex-football star Wolfgang Overath collects donations for people in need. Only recently, the VR-Bank Bonn Rhein-Sieg also supported ten food banks in the region with a total of 100,000 euros. For example, 12,000 euros went to Siegburg and 4,000 euros to Much.

Meanwhile, at the CJD Königswinter, students continue to collect food every week. The campaign will continue until the end of May. "I think you can do it again and again," says seventh-grader Til.

(Original text:Marie Schneider, Translation: Jean Lennox)

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