The complex logistics directing vans involved in food rescue around London as well as organising our bustling food rescue depot could not be sustained without the brilliant, dedicated volunteers that are embedded in City Harvest London. CM, one of our most experienced volunteers, shares her thoughts about life at City Harvest.
How did you find City Harvest?
I found it through do-it.org - a very helpful site where you can find all types of volunteer work. City Harvest appealed to me because I’ve heard about homeless people dumpster diving behind supermarkets, and it seems like such a haphazard and sad way to find dinner. I figured that City Harvest could deliver food to homeless shelters directly, and make the whole experience more sanitary and dignified.
How has City harvest changed since you started?
I first started with City Harvest back in March 2016. There were only three drivers (all male), and two vans! Now we’ve got four drivers, two men and two women. (Yay for equality!)
At the beginning, it seemed to me like operations were running out of people’s houses, but now we have a brand-new warehouse, more staff and a spacious and comfortable office.
How have you changed since being at City Harvest?
On the practical side, I’ve learnt quite a lot about food health and safety. Also, one of the other volunteers, John, has taught me how to mop a mean floor too!
I’ve also learned that people are much, much kinder than I ever expected them to be. Many of the supermarkets, bakeries, and other companies that donate food to us don’t have to, but they do.
What is the most surprising thing to you about the organisation?
Most of the companies I’ve ever worked at, you never, ever see the CEOs apart from once a year at the annual company staff party. And even then, it’s for about five seconds. Here, I see our CEO Laura all the time, and our COO Adam is visible too. This makes a big difference to morale, and I think it makes all of us (employed staff or volunteers alike) much more motivated. If your bosses really care, then so do you!
What’s your favourite food?
This changes from week to week and most of my friends think that the things I eat are like on a different level of weird! Moe, our routing expert, gave me this grossed out look the other day when I was busy eating some pureed banana and coconut milk baby food pouch, ha! Now, I’m really into Sojade’s prune soy yogurt, Clive’s Pies’ mushroom pie, and Clearspring’s organic brown rice crackers, I could live off those!
What’s the most unique thing you’ve seen donated to City Harvest?
It’s not the one thing. More like a whole category of stuff. We’ve had baby wipes, shampoo, shower gel, pots, pans, cleaning products. I’ve been so ignorant about what is needed by people when they’re on the street or in temporary accommodation. I always thought that food is the number one thing, which of course it is, but there are so many other things that can make life a bit more bearable.
Anything else you’d like to discuss about City Harvest?
I’d like to thank everyone at City Harvest for making volunteering here such a fun, rewarding experience. The drivers, office staff, all the other volunteers, absolutely everyone has been so friendly and so welcoming. I feel so lucky and so honored to be a tiny, tiny part of this big-hearted charity.
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