Dennis Bouman
Mathilde Simon profiel Rotterdam Centrum
Written by Mathilde Simon
April 21, 2022

On May 5th we will reflect on our freedom. You can do that at a festival, alone at home or maybe with others during a freedom meal. To help you with the latter, Freedom Meals are organized throughout Rotterdam. A wonderful initiative in which connection is central. Because what better connects people than dining together?

To find out more about the Freedom Meals on 5 May, we talked to Geert van Emden, part of the Rotterdam Freedom Meals team.

What is the idea behind the Freedom Meals?

"A Freedom Meal is actually a meal where you come together and eat, where you meet and talk about freedom. On the day of May 5, Liberation Day, we celebrate our freedom and during the meals on that day, we encourage people to start the conversation. It doesn't necessarily have to be about Liberation Day; you can also approach freedom as a broader concept. There are more topics around freedom and what that means for people. That way we understand each other a little bit better, we are less alien to each other and we become united. That is the goal."

What does freedom mean to you?

"That you have the feeling that you can be yourself. That you can talk about freedom, but that you can and may also speak if you don't feel free. That there is room for that."

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Can you tell me more about the previous years?

"The concept of the Freedom Meals is something that is organized nationally. Since 2020 we have also been organizing it in Rotterdam. At first only with the Freedom Soup, because we couldn't physically sit together due to Covid. It was a good way to get together from a distance. Last year, more than 45,000 Rotterdammers took part."

How was the initiative with the soup cans received?

"Very positive and full of enthusiasm! People think it's important to do something good. One of my personal favourite moments was last year when we had soups delivered to a care institution, which they then ate in groups and sometimes alone in the room. On one such place, a programme was organized for seniors, where a jazz duo took care of the music. All seniors sat together at the table enjoying the soups and then started dancing. In the context of that time, with all the trouble around Covid, that was very special. Meeting each other is so important."

But now it's time to get back together, right?

"Yes! Now, two years later, we can be together again! That means - in addition to the soup cans - we will also introduce the get together during a meal in Rotterdam."

"The soup remain. You can still order it and eat it together with, for example, your neighbour. But we are also introducing the Freedom Meals, which you can organize yourself or that you can join. Our goal is of course that the tables are placed outside and everyone sits down and starts a conversation. There are already a lot of parties that participate in this, especially care and welfare institutions, cultural institutions, catering companies and other companies that organize a meal for employees, customers, guests or passers-by. 100 locations now, that's fantastic!"

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Where are you dining this year?

"There are a number of people in Delfshaven who organize Freedom Meals. But also at the foot of the Erasmus Bridge, where a meeting dinner is organized for passers-by. So you can just join! Also nice is the giveaway of the Havenloods, where you can win a seat at the table in the Groothandelsgebouw."

Join in?

The Freedom Meal is for everyone. You can simply buy a soup can and eat it with someone. But of course you can also join an organized meal.

On the website you can see exactly where you can sit down in Rotterdam or how you can organize a meal for your company or institution, for example. And buying a soup can is also very easy via the website! Did you also know that if you buy a soup can, you simultaneously donate one to someone else? A small gesture with a huge impact!

How will you be celebrating freedom this year?

Mathilde Simon profiel Rotterdam Centrum
Written by Mathilde Simon
April 21, 2022