Hidden poverty in the Netherlands: how to survive in a crisis

Until now it was thought that the Netherlands overcome the storm of the financial crisis relatively unscathed.

But on Monday, the government led by Mark Rutte resigned due to disagreements within the ruling coalition on measures to reduce the budget deficit, and the Dutch are increasingly beginning to feel the effects of the economic downturn.

One manifestation of this is the growing demand for free food.

On one of the streets in the subtle edge of Amsterdam's going to turn at the door of the social center. People wait for the opening paragraph on the distribution of food. Downstairs in the basement of volunteers feverishly laid colorful bags with food in plastic containers. Only in five of these items.

Recently, they have an unprecedented influx of visitors.

"We serve about 1,300 families here every week. We are seeing a sharp increase in demand for our services, — said an employee of the organization Food Bank Amsterdam Piet Van Diepen. — Our visitors have no work, they have little money and a lot of debt. Government reduces the amount of benefits and why people come to us. "

Since December last year, the number of people who want to receive food assistance increased by 10%. More than 6,000 Dutch people now rely on such rations.

Peter is one of the first in the center hall, where the distribution of rations. In her hands — two large shopping bag, and she eagerly looks around at the tables exposed containers with products.

"This week is successful. Look, there's a lot of vegetables, cakes, fruits, sauces for pasta — everything is great, sometimes there just offer packages with a salad," — she said.

Peter comes to this place for three years. Packaging products in their bags thoroughly battered, she explains that she put an allowance of 50 euros per week is quite insufficient to feed a family.

"If it were not for the food distribution point, I'd have to steal, because the purchase of products is not enough money. Holland has poverty, but it is hidden about it, few people know," — she said.

Malnutrition and hunger are the concepts that are rarely associated with one of the most developed economies in Europe. However, the austerity measures, which are administered under the pressure of the authorities of the European institutions, are beginning to affect the situation of ordinary citizens.

The economy officially entered a stage of decline and unemployment has reached a level of 6%, the highest in six years. Every sixth family is experiencing financial difficulties.

Just a few kilometers in the center of Amsterdam's trendy bar Basis knows besieged by visitors who do not wish to change their habits under the pressure of the crisis. Here you can come with your meal — here its free warm up, and the money will take only for drinks.

Behind the bar in a microwave oven pizza is spinning, and the 20-year-old Sophie so far with an appetite absorbs salad bought in the supermarket.

"I can not afford to eat in the restaurant, so I come here. This salad cost me 5 euros in a store, but if I bought it at a restaurant, you would pay 10-15 euros," — she said.

Basis bar did not come as a refuge from the financial crisis, but its owner Michael Zwart said that most of its users are not too rich.

"People do not have money to spare, now a restaurant, but they still want to go to the city to spend an evening in the company of friends, and we tried to give them the opportunity, — he says. — People come to us with big pots of homemade soup. If add to this a few loaves of bread, warmed up in the oven, a few people are for little money we have to spend a pleasant evening. "

The waiters are willing to wash the dishes for the visitors and left them to throw garbage.

At the other end of the 32-year-old Denise Dulsich fussing with a hot plate.

"To go to a restaurant — forget about it — she said. — I have to cook at home now, to survive, because no other work is not just."

When the government reduced the allocation for special education, Denise lost her job a child psychologist and has since been receiving unemployment benefit.

She became a member of a new project called Tweetje Mee (table for two), which allows people to cook their own food at home and sell the surplus.

But Denise says that she finds it difficult to make a living this way.

"I have a lot to pay for an apartment. I love to cook, but I have to do it all the time, because the only way you can survive," — she explains.

Before the policy of the Netherlands is now the problem is to cut the budget by another 9 billion euros, more and more Dutch people are in a situation where they have to count every penny.


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