Sam Scott, one of our Stop Hunger Trustees, shares the inspiring experience she and a colleague had volunteering with Stop Hunger partner Fareshare. Find out what made the day so rewarding and why you should get involved.
As Sodexo employees, we can take three volunteering days a year to support activities that tackle hunger and malnutrition and promote healthy lifestyles. It’s a fantastic opportunity to give something back, gain new perspectives and, see for yourself what goes on behind the scenes with charities devoted to the fight against hunger. Who wouldn’t want to get involved?
So, who are Fareshare?
Fareshare works in 1500 towns and cities across the UK, fighting food waste by saving good food that would otherwise be thrown away. They then take this food and send it to local charities and community groups who make nutritious meals for vulnerable people.
What surprised me was the quality and the variety of the food. This food can’t be sold for a host of different reasons - it may have a short shelf life, the packaging might be damaged, or, simply, too much stock’s been ordered so it won’t get sold. Instead of supermarkets and other food retailers dumping this, it’s taken to Fareshare and distributed to where it can make a difference to people who need it most.
What did we do on the day?
After arriving at Fareshare’s warehouse, we put on steel toe-capped boots, high vis jackets and received a comprehensive health & safety briefing. We then helped the team to prepare the day’s deliveries. It takes a lot of careful planning and organisation to get this food to the 224 charities and community groups that Fareshare support across the capital.
The next part of the day took us on a journey that I’ll never forget. We ventured out across the city, assisting with the delivery of food orders to organisations who turn these surplus supplies into meals for Londoners in need of support. The range and diversity of organisations was astounding. Each one offered a unique approach to meeting the needs of the people they work with. From hostels for homeless people, ex-service personnel and recovering drug addicts, through to a community flat offering support to vulnerable local people and a centre who use supplies to teach people with learning disabilities about food preparation. It was clear that food is vital to all these people and without their Fareshare delivery, they would struggle. These organisations address real issues in our local communities, and seeing the crucial impact that Fareshare are making on the services they provide was truly inspiring.
One of the things I found shocking is that organisations like Fareshare are only just touching the surface of food waste. Despite their excellent approach, just 5% of surplus food is currently being redistributed. Imagine the impact that could be made if this figure was higher.
Seeing the difference that Sodexo’s support of Fareshare makes to the lives of people touched by hunger was humbling and made me feel proud to work for a company that is committed to these issues.
Why is volunteering a good idea?
Here's why you should do some volunteering
- It’s educational – You’re living and breathing the organisation and learning new things along the way. Who knew that food redistributed through Fareshare is enough food for 36.7 million meals?
- It’s rewarding – This is a chance to give something back, meet people, see the difference that’s being made to local causes. Organisations like Fareshare rely on volunteers to keep their activities running smoothly and efficiently.
- It’s a chance to connect with the community – I had no idea of the range and diversity of organisations impacted by hunger that exist right under our noses. It’s a chance to learn about these, meet fantastic people supporting these, and see for yourself what happens on your own doorstep.
- It’s an opportunity to do something different – Seeing behind the scenes at Fareshare was a fascinating insight into the complexities of running a food distribution warehouse. Very different from my day job at Sodexo.
- It’s good for you – Studies have shown that volunteering releases tension. This has got to be good!
- Because you can – Above all, go volunteering because you can! Anyone can volunteer, especially in an organisation like Sodexo where you are offered up to three days a year to take part in these activities. With all these opportunities on offer, and so many fantastic charities relying on volunteers for survival, why wouldn’t you?