February 26, 2019
“We’re a social supermarket,” explains Nicky Dankelman, project manager of De Sociale Kruidenier. De Sociale Kruidenier is a social project which helps Amsterdammers with a krappe beurs (low income). In Amsterdam, an estimated one in five people live below the national poverty line. De Sociale Kruidenier is one of several initiatives connected to Amsterdam’s Protestant Diaconate. Located at Nieuwe Herengracht 18, the supermarket opens its doors twice a week from 1 pm to 5 pm.
De Sociale Kruidenier has 400 to 500 customers who were able to apply to the project via the local food bank, the Voedselbank Amsterdam. While the Voedselbank provides packages with a pre-selection of items, De Sociale Kruidenier works differently. “In De Sociale Kruidenier, people can choose from a consistent range of products”, Dankelman explains. Most of these products are purchased by De Sociale Kruidenier while some are given through donations. Customers are then able to purchase products for 30% of the original price. The supermarket pays for the remaining 70%.
But De Sociale Kruidenier hopes to go beyond the role of the average supermarket. As Dankelman explains, “De Sociale Kruidenier is more than just a supermarket.” The aim is to empower customers to regain control over their own finances. “Social workers are available directly in the shop and provide immediate help. On top of that we offer courses and training.” The quote that comes to mind is “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” As a ‘social’ supermarket, a small seating area further provides space for interactions between customers and social workers. De Sociale Kruidenier also has a supermarket in Noord which opens every Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm, and a third store may soon build on this success.
De Sociale Kruidenier relies on the work of volunteers who promote the project, manage the stock and help to gain sponsors. Almost a quarter of the products available in De Sociale Kruidenier have been donated. In collaboration with supermarkets such as Albert Heijn, De Sociale Kruidenier sets up boxes asking customers to purchase an extra product suitable for a donation. Volunteers are then needed to explain the project to potential donors or sponsors. Other opportunities to contribute to the project can be found on their website.
Got an Idea?
“We are always open to hear suggestions from people [for] how we can develop De Sociale Kruidenier as a social enterprise,” Dankelman states. “The project seems to get bigger and bigger each day; there is always something to do.” De Sociale Kruidenier can be contacted for volunteering or internships at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This article was written in collaboration with De Sociale Kruidenier.