From nuts and ragout to tomato soup and coffee, Olga Jonk’s food sharing cupboard is packed full. She set up the project in her front garden on Armagnaclaan in Eindhoven six months ago.
‘Foodsharekast’, or ‘food sharing cupboard’ refers to a publicly accessible cupboard where people can donate or collect food. The idea is simple: if you have food products left over, you can place them in Jonk’s cupboard. And if you need food, you can take something from the cupboard. It is completely free to use. Food sharing cupboards such as Jonk’s also exist in Breda and Utrecht.
‘I previously set up a mini library at my parents’ farm in Valkenswaard, which is very successful,’ says Jonk. Mini libraries follow the same concept: you can donate a book or take a book, completely for free. ‘I thought I could create a similar project, but with food,’ she continues. ‘For example, I had two bags of satay sauce, which I don’t like, so I put the bags into the food sharing cupboard.’
Fighting food waste
Jonk says that people are welcome to place all kinds of food items in the cupboard. ‘Every day I check what is there and that it is properly sealed. People tell me that it would be better to take the donations to the food bank, but I don’t want to focus solely on poor people. I want to prevent food waste in all areas.’ She says that even expired food and packets that have already been opened are welcome in the cupboard. ‘There are plenty of people who will still want that item and can decide for themselves if it is still useable or not.’
To make sure the cupboard is always well stocked, Jonk uses the Nextdoor app. For example, she wrote a post asking people to donate an item from their ‘kerstpakket’, a hamper of gifts traditionally given by Dutch companies to their employees. She also received lots of bottles of sauce from a café that had to close due to the coronavirus measures, as the sauce would have expired by the time they can re-open.
So far, Jonk’s cupboard is the only one in Eindhoven. She says ‘it would be great if there were more. Every neighbourhood should have one’.
Jonk praises the generosity of people in the neighbourhood so far. ‘There is something new in the cupboard almost every day. Someone even donated scratch cards worth 25 euros.’
Source: Omroep Brabant
Translation: Rachael Vickerman