On March 15th, 2020, all cafés and restaurants in the Netherlands were ordered to close their doors except for take-out. Needless to say, this caused huge uncertainty among farmers, food producers, restaurant owners, and anyone making their living in the food industry.
“We were seeing a domino effect in the ecosystem of the restaurant industry, affecting not only the restaurants but also many of their suppliers. And that was no less visible with Slow Food minded businesses’, expressed Guus Thijssen, one of the coordinators of the Slow Food Chefs Alliance in the Netherlands. “Restaurants in the Chef’s Alliance are often very closely linked to specific small producers with rare, heritage products. With the demand from the restaurants suddenly coming to a halt, it immediately created surpluses for these producers that couldn’t be easily sold elsewhere.’
The Silver Lining: Choose Local
This amount of dark clouds had people searching for a silver lining, and luckily there were many. The upside of this crisis is that it has brought to the surface the resilience, solidarity, and creativity of many individuals in the network in the Netherlands and worldwide. And that’s how the #SupportYourLocalsNL campaign was born.
A group of Amsterdam-based food producers started a campaign calling on consumers to keep supporting their favorite local farmers and restaurants, and encouraging food entrepreneurs to work together to create home-delivered local food boxes to be ordered online, and delivered from various points across the country.
From the activity emerged the Kies Lokaal (Choose Local) website, a page containing addresses in all twelve provinces in the Netherlands, allowing people to nominate their own (favorite) businesses to be added on.
‘Being on this list has helped us.’, says Evrim Kurç, owner of restaurant and catering business De Bio Basis in Zeist. ‘After having to close down our restaurant, and with all our outstanding catering jobs being canceled, we immediately switched to a meal delivery service, and had multiple customers every week that found us through Slow Food. That helps us, and the farmers we work with. We’re working a bit more than we already did. I don’t think that this is something that we’d be able to maintain in the long run. But for now, I’m very grateful that I’m still able to provide good and healthy meals to people and to keep working together with the network that we’ve invested so much energy in the years up till now. This is a time when I really feel the power of local communities.’
Do you want to help local producers in your country survive this crisis?
Tips from Saskia Littooij – communications officer at Slow Food Netherlands
- Create an online form where people can share their tips. That way you will receive all tips clearly and in the same format, and you can process them directly on your page.
- Actively ask your network via newsletter and social media for local producers, chefs, and catering establishments and let them fill it in using the form.
- Clarify the urgency of why small local entrepreneurs are having a hard time right now.
- When your page is online, send a newsletter with clickable links to your supporters and refer them to your page.
- Promote the local producers on your page through your social media channels.
If you have questions about starting a similar page in your own country, or if you have interesting examples of how local businesses are supported in your area, let us know by sending an email to [email protected]