Leigh – tackling food waste at FareShare

Leigh – tackling food waste at FareShare

Leigh is a volunteer in the kitchen at FareShare Sussex. FareShare receives surplus food from food companies that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it to local charities where it is transformed into thousands of meals and food parcels every week.

“When I arrive in the morning, I typically spend a few minutes scratching my head, wondering what nutritious lunch I can make the volunteers with what’s available. It can be a bit like the TV programme ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’! Ensuring food gets to the FareShare projects is the top priority so I need to make something using what has been set aside by the warehouse staff. Then it’s into the kitchen to prepare lunch for around 30 FareShare volunteers. I like to make sure there is always a hearty soup on offer as it can often be cold in the warehouse or fridge.”

Leigh has always wanted to volunteer but shift work in a previous job role made it difficult to commit to regular hours. “My nan volunteered her entire working life. She was a caring, compassionate role model and I wanted to honour her and carry that forward.”

Leigh’s favourite aspect of volunteering is the people. “It sounds clichéd, but the staff and other volunteers are such amazing people. Their passion for what they’re doing can fill a room with light. There’s always banter and a feeling of being part of a team; people from all walks of life pulling together for something that means a lot to each of us.”

“I’m that person who always makes friends with the host’s dog at a party! I’m horribly introverted and don’t have much self-confidence. Work and life can be quite draining but a session at FareShare always fills me with energy and enthusiasm. I always leave feeling like I could rule the world and that’s purely down to the amazing people who make me feel safe and equal, and that I have something valuable to say and offer.”

Leigh recognises the increasing need for organisations such as FareShare. “However, I feel the stigma that used to be associated with needing help or using a foodbank is gradually being broken down giving more people the confidence to reach out. Communities and neighbours have pulled together during the Covid-19 pandemic. Neighbours who may never have met in the past supported each other with grocery shopping, a chat over the fence, or looking in on that elderly or single neighbour. I would love to see those relationships continue to grow”.

For anyone considering volunteering Leigh says, ‘do it!’ “Take time to find somewhere that aligns with your values or passion and remember that a trial shift is as much for you as it is for the organisation. It may take one or two tries to find something that speaks to you and that’s okay. There’s a special sense of gratification and reward that volunteering gives you and you’ll surprise yourself.”

“Work and life can be quite draining but a session at FareShare always fills me with energy and enthusiasm. I always leave feeling like I could rule the world!”

“Work and life can be quite draining but a session at FareShare always fills me with energy and enthusiasm. I always leave feeling like I could rule the world!”

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