This week we are reporting from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. A small city characterised by canals, walkable distances and picturesque houses, yet with a think-big-mentality of entrepreneurship lurking behind the facades. This mentality is reflected in an innovative food scene, filled with out-of-the-box concepts and artisan restaurants. However, the current lockdown has turned the scene silent, leaving local produce uneaten in the fields and shops. But not for long: Samuel Levie started a new movement to sell directly to consumers while also supporting those most in need.
Samuel Levie is an entrepreneur with several food-related businesses in the Netherlands. Among these are a specialist sausage-making butchery, started with his friends Jiri and Geert, and Food Cabinet, a project and campaign agency specialised in food and sustainability. All different, yet inspired by one mission: that something has to change in the way we handle food. It is time to transition to a system of quality, local produce and sustainability.
As a consequence of the current pandemic, the likelihood of going out of business, and thereby affecting many farmers and producers the team works with, became a serious threat. “Amidst the chaos”, Samuel states, “I saw the possibility to bring restaurant artisan food culture and local produce to the homes of people”.
Some hours and phone calls later, a plan was made under the name “Support Your Locals”. The team would sell boxes of local products directly to consumers, while also donating hundreds of boxes to the local food banks. “Together with Instock, a social enterprise that battles food waste, we set up a distribution hub and website, and within 48 hours the orders were flooding in. Now, our Support Your Locals initiative is flourishing nationwide, helping nearly 300 specialist producers to stay in business as they continue to farm their livestock and produce their food.”
Good news travels fast and soon the biggest hospital in Amsterdam called and requested if 7,000 boxes of food could be made for their frontline staff. “We had to step things up. We had 275 volunteers working in shifts and under social-distancing measures in a huge warehouse, dancing along to a DJ as they packed.”
Samuel, we salute you and your teams. Let’s get the ‘Support Your Locals’ movement across borders!
Photocredit to Rein Janssen/Volkskrant