At the recommendation of the Groningen University Fund, the University of Groningen has awarded the Ubbo Emmius medal for social merit to Maria Jongsma. Jongsma has received this award for her efforts as chair of the Board of the Groningen Food Bank.
By presenting Jongsma with the Ubbo Emmius medal for social merit, the University of Groningen wants to shine a spotlight on her and her fellow volunteers at the Food Bank This award is also a good opportunity for a symposium to highlight the underlying problem: the—growing—inequality in society, as a result of which more and more people have to turn to the Food Bank. The symposium will also include a discussion of possible solutions.
It seems that social inequality has been increasing recently, which makes it more difficult to bridge the gap between those who are socially well-off and those who are poor. One indication that those on the ‘wrong’ side of that gap are increasingly faring badly is the growing influx of people turning to Food Banks. More and more people are apparently unable to make a living on their own. At the symposium organized by the UG on 11 May in connection with the award, various speakers from academia and politics will further discuss the various aspects of social inequality.
Maria Jongsma studied andragogy at the University of Groningen (1974–1979) and subsequently worked in a variety of advisory and managerial positions in home care, welfare work, and education. In particular, stimulating the development of children who are socially disadvantaged had and still has her special attention. Since April 2020, she has chaired the Board of the Stad Groningen Food Bank and the Groningen Regional Distribution Centre.
The Ubbo Emmius medal was established in 1964 by the Groningen University Fund (GUF) on the occasion of the UG's 350th anniversary. There are two versions of the medal: one for academic merit and one for social merit. Both medals are awarded once every 5 years.
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