Today it’s World Food Day, which offers us the chance to celebrate its theme of “food heroes”, who are helping ensure food reaches children and families who need it most.
We believe our FOOD Club staff and volunteers display their own brand of heroism by helping to support local families, while also using surplus food to reduce the amount of food going to landfill.
Here we catch up with Megan, a Food On Our Doorstep (FOOD) Support Worker in the South West, to find out more about the programme, and the impact it’s having on local communities.
I have always been interested in community projects – which has shaped my professional background in youth work, food poverty and education – so was keen to get involved in the FOOD Club programme. Family Action’s FOOD Club project started in Manchester back in 2019, but we now have FOOD Clubs in many other areas, such as Southend and Peterborough.
It’s essentially a membership scheme, and individuals or families can sign up to become members with an annual fee of £1, which allows them to buy a box of good quality food worth £10-15 each week for £3.50. I think what makes this programme special is the level of local community engagement and support we offer members. We work closely with a wide range of local organisations, such as children’s centres, schools and community groups, as well as food distribution charity FareShare.
FOOD Clubs are very diverse, with no two clubs being alike, and I love that there is so much potential to develop each club based on the unique needs of the local community! They have a great atmosphere and I feel fortunate to spend my afternoons involved with the clubs. I often end up having discussions about recipe ideas with families or talking about unusual foods we have to offer that week, which is a welcome contrast to the seriousness we are all experiencing at the moment.
To me, a good club is one where we have a strong team and members are happy. We are fortunate in that the FOOD Clubs tend to attract fantastic volunteers which, along with the programme partners and other staff members, means that a strong team is naturally formed and everyone has a good time.
“To me, a good club is one where we have a strong team and members are happy.”
We end up having conversations about what we have been up to that week, how we can continue to improve the club, and if there is anything else we can do to support our members. We have seen an abundance of certain items over the summer and use this as an opportunity to get creative with recipe ideas – more courgette, anyone?
We also have a great time chatting with FOOD Club members about the sometimes unusual vegetables at the club we’ve received that week such as, for example, a Tromboncino squash! It is lovely hearing from members about how they have been encouraged to try new foods or recipes using these items or about how they’ve enjoyed spending time and cooking with their children.
Thinking today on World Food Day about food heroes I think what makes a food hero is anyone who shares a valuable experience with others through food. This could be a family member or friend sharing a recipe with others, or volunteers facilitating access to food and other support services. Even simply sharing a smile with our members each week can make a huge difference in someone’s day!
I may be biased, but I think that every FOOD Club volunteer is a food hero. Volunteers play an invaluable role in the success of the clubs and have the potential to make a marked difference in the lives of our members. I think it is incredible that we have a team of lovely volunteers who give up time each week for the benefit of others and always seem to have a fab time doing so!
To find out more about FOOD Clubs, or to find out about volunteering opportunities, please visit here.