Volunteers Week – SAVE Food Hub
This Volunteers’ Week we’re talking to people across Devon about what it’s like to be a volunteer.
Today we’re meeting volunteers Angie Morgan and Fiona Anderson from SAVE food hub, an East Devon organisation that collects surplus food from supermarkets and distributes to local residents to avoid waste.
Angie joined right at the start and is one of a growing number of over 60 active volunteers. She started by helping lead volunteers run their collections and is now a lead volunteer herself. Every Wednesday her team of volunteers collect surplus food from Co-ops and Tesco and take it to a distribution point provided by Seaton Town Council. Angie sorts through it all and allocates items to food banks, the community larder in Seaton and for collection that same evening via the Olio app. In its first 6 months, SAVE food hub listed 17,000 items on Olio, provided food for 23,000 meals, and saved 7.2million litres of water.
Any leftover food is frozen where possible and a volunteer delivers it to the Community Larder freezer.
Fiona joined in September 2020 and her role is to take a proportion of the food collected to the Axminster food bank, which is used by around 85 households a week. As food bank donations mostly consist of tinned items, the weekly addition of fresh fruit & vegetables, eggs and bread is a welcome bonus. SAVE food hub has now delivered over 300 crates of food to local food banks and community food projects.
Volunteers also run the Seaton community larder which is open for everyone to use on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The larder stocks tinned and fresh goods but it also has fridges and freezers so items such as chilled meals and soups can be frozen. It’s also handy if there’s a glut, like the time they received bags and bags of fresh spinach! In its first month the larder handed out over 600 kilos of food to over 250 people.
It’s an incredible achievement for any organisation, especially one that is formed entirely of volunteers. “We all play a part” says Fiona. “My role of delivering the food every Monday takes about an hour which I’m happy to do and it fits in with my life. It’s all about what you feel able to offer and everyone’s contribution is equally important in making it work, no matter how large or small”
Fiona became a volunteer because reducing food waste is important to her, but she found there are added benefits too. “I enjoy being a part of something friendly and positive – sharing food plays an important social role, especially during a pandemic when people are feeling isolated, so it’s a good way of bringing communities together in a safe and socially distanced way”.
Angie began volunteering as a way to get involved in the local community when she moved to the area. She loves a bargain and hates needless waste, so SAVE food hub was the perfect fit. “Once I saw the amount of food that would have been wasted, I was hooked! I love the challenge of each collection and seeing it put to good use instead of thrown away. It keeps my brain active, it helps the environment and I get to spend time with friendly and encouraging people who are passionate about what we do”.
What advice does Fiona give to anyone thinking of volunteering? “Just do it! Choose something important to you and only do what you can do. Start small and see how you go. You’ll learn new things, meet different people and you may find you have skills from a past job that can be of use.”
If you have time or skills to offer and you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, read more about it here.