Our Food on our Doorstep (FOOD) clubs are popular with their members for good reason as they provide good quality food for families at a reasonable price, while also reducing food waste.
However, the enthusiasm isn’t limited to just those using the service, and our volunteers can be some of the clubs’ biggest fans! Here Southend Volunteer Karen tells us why she’s passionate about her role.
For my day job I work in education, where I often talk to young people about food preparation, and so I love seeing how happy our FOOD club members are with our service, and especially how they have grown in confidence preparing meals using the varied items we provide.
I’m a vegan and love vegetables and fruit (even the wonky ones we get at FOOD club) and I’d say passion fruit and tofu are the items more people ask about than any other. Luckily, I’m well used to cooking with both – so I’m able to share recipe ideas.
I initially heard about FOOD clubs on social media when my local councillor posted about the service. I have a passion for food, cooking and healthy eating and for reducing waste, so it felt like a good fit – particularly as there are clubs on a Saturday and I could fit volunteering around work.
“I have a passion for food, cooking and healthy eating and for reducing waste, so it felt like a good fit – particularly as there are clubs on a Saturday and I could fit volunteering around work.”
I applied after an initial talk with a support worker, Karen (that’s confusing now we work together!), who works at the FOOD club. Following a successful interview, I started as soon as I could after the legal checks and references were processed. This took some time, but I understand why they’re important.
FOOD club offered me lots of training in things like food hygiene, safeguarding as well as a wide range of other things.
All the courses were online as this was in the middle of the pandemic. I would have normally liked to do the training face to face, but the induction at the club itself was helpful and I was made to feel very welcome by Karen and her team.
On day one I was nervous, as there’s a lot to remember, alongside crates to be lifted and new people to meet… I slept well that night!
In a typical week I volunteer for four hours on a Saturday morning. We start by getting the boxes ready, keeping back any items that we don’t have enough of for everyone. These are bundled up as extras, often with a theme or as a mini meal kit, which is something I really enjoy doing.
We offer them for an additional payment, but it’s completely optional for members.
Some of our members don’t eat meat or have allergies, so we make up special boxes for them, but as a vegan I completely understand, and I enjoy getting them ready.
I have volunteered on delivery day and enjoyed the surprise element of finding out what the van holds and I also recently helped at one of the summer fun days the service ran, which was something we tried for the first time this year.
The families that came seemed to really enjoy getting to know each other better as we are still operating a queue system outside the club with one in one out; there is not always time for this during a standard day at the club.
My support and passion for FOOD clubs is obvious to my friends, family and colleagues and I promote it everywhere I go, recruiting new members from the school I work at too.
I feel privileged to work with such a great team and it’s lovely meeting the people who use the service – I particularly enjoy it when we have extras like Easter eggs and toys at Christmas and seeing the joy on the children’s faces.
If Karen’s story has inspired you why not find out more about our FOOD clubs and volunteering at Family Action.