Kim, coordinator of Enchanté: "The biggest challenge? The taboo and stigma that still surrounds deprivation today!"

Kim Swyngedouw is coordinator of the warm Ghent-based non-profit organisation Enchanté. In 2021, they launched the Bread (box) Needed project. A project that is becoming increasingly important. Kim explains why that is and gives a glimpse into her view of the future.

 

"Enchanté asbl makes solidarity a matter of course. From the firm belief that our society becomes better when we care for each other. Propagating our mission, every day, in all the contacts there are, is what drives me and how I can and want to make a difference."

"That is why we launched the project in 2021 Bread (box) needed. It is estimated that 1 in 4 students is hungry at school. That is 1 in 4 pupils who do not have access to the nutrition they need to concentrate, learn and develop. That this does not help the learning opportunities of the most vulnerable pupils goes without saying. Because, as the slogan of Bread(box)needed reads, 'Learning falls hard on an empty stomach'. Bread(box)needed offers schools a structural approach to deal with this issue."

 

How necessary is Bread (box) needed?

"Students who come to class hungry, who never bring a snack or lunch, who put away their empty lunchbox out of shame: it is closer than we think. Schools have long since stopped sticking to their guns and teachers often provide their own bread in the freezer and a jar of choco in the cupboard or they bring an extra piece of biscuit or fruit. But schools' options are limited. Bread (box) needed offers schools the chance to work on school hunger with additional resources and in a structural way. In 2023, Bread (box) needed could therefore fill 75,000 bread boxes. And we are immensely proud of that! "

 

Everyone can make a difference

"The biggest challenge in fighting hunger in Belgian schools? The taboo and stigma that still surrounds underprivileged poverty today, and the guilt model that we too often juxtapose with it. Enchanté makes solidarity a given. We talk to every stakeholder in the story about their responsibility and the realisation that everyone can make a difference. In this way, we build a caring society step by step."

"And you do notice that difference. For example, we asked a teacher whether she noticed a difference in her classroom after 1 year of Bread (Box) Needed. She literally replied that there is no doubt about that. The pupils behave better and can focus better during class."

 

Hopeful look to the future

"Our collaboration with Entrepreneurs For a Warm Belgium feels very warm. We experience that we look at the world in the same way. We feel that our mission is supported at OVWB which makes the cooperation run smoothly. We all want to make a difference for children and young people who are socially disadvantaged. We each do that in our strengths, but together."

"Next year, we will roll out Bread (box) Needs further in Flanders, Brussels and try to cross the language border. The more schools we can integrate into our project, the more pupils we reach, the more visibility we give to what underprivileged poverty is and how many facets it consists of. Doing my bit for that every day, that's what I enjoy jumping out of bed for!"

 

Small step with a big result

"Opportunity poverty is an issue with many layers and facets. Hunger is just one of them. We are aware that we are only taking a small step with this project. But if we can increase citizens' understanding around opportunity poverty in the coming years and make everyone look at society with a pinch of mildness, our mission will have succeeded."

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