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Volunteering for Hounds?

I’ve been thinking of doing some more volunteering lately, and it seems like something food-related would be enjoyable to me. Are there any hounds who volunteer with food-related organizations? What do you do?

I’m thinking more along the lines of educating kids or families about healthy dining choices, less Food Bank-type prep work (I spent 8 hours bagging frozen chicken breasts for a San Francisco nonprofit—wonderful work, but not what I’m seeking).


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  1. I volunteer at a community center that does that but for classes on nutrition, they get a registered dietician to volunteer to teach. Being in the fitness industry, I know a lot about nutrition but I understand that they want to guarantee that they're not just getting someone who has a lot of heart but not knowledge to teach. They do have helpers in the class and the place I volunteer asks people to put together cooking packages (measuring cups, spoons, etc. ) so people can have the basics to start cooking at home. Try www.helping.org for ideas.

    1. www.volunteermatch.org
      type in your zip code and a list of volunteer opp's will result
      if you know the specific name of a charity, you can try "by name" searches as well

      still no luck, contact your local Volunteer Center or United Way to inquire about local food-related volunteer positions.

      two opp's that quickly come to mind: volunteering for a culinary school (tech school) or hotel that has a large fundraising/event following and may seek an intern.

      1. If you are in the San Francisco area, contact Mary Risley at Tante Marie's Cooking School. She started Food Runners, one of the great ideas of all time for food-related volunteering.

        1. Meals on Wheels -- not glamorous, but necessary. When it had a volunteer assistant program, I was one for Boulder's Cooking School of the Rockies (now Culinary School of the Rockies). That involved prep work, assisting chefs, serving -- and absorbing much of what was taught in hands-on and demo classes. Not a charity benefiting the needy or hungry, but volunteer work nonetheless -- and lots of fun.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ClaireWalter

            I love this idea. I always think of Meals on Wheels volunteers as delivery people but I'd love to be part of the food prep. I'm going to look into this.

            1. re: chowser

              The delivery aspect is important, too. In some cases, the Meals-on-Wheels delivery driver is the only human contact a shut-in has over the course of their day. There have been occasions here where our Meals-on-Wheels driver has found someone ill, or fallen, or something, and gotten them the care they need. (We've also had a couple of occasions where it's the Meals-on-Wheels driver who find a person who has passed away, too.) Years ago when I delivered in Wichita, there was a gentleman who was extremely lonesome after the death of his wife. I learned to arrange my route so I went to his house last, so I'd have time to visit with him.

              My own dream volunteer job would be teaching folks how to make decent food from non-convenience-food ingredients, especially people who need to eat frugally. There's a woman in my church who just retired after years as the hospital dietician, so she might be able to help me in that area, and hopefully get some basic curriculum guidance from the extension service.

          2. http://spoonsacrossamerica.org/

            this link was provided under another thread, very interesting volunteer opps.

            1 Reply
            1. re: HillJ

              This is so great. Thanks for the link!

            2. Project Open Hand in the city is a great program. They have nutrional education for seniors (another critical demographic). Also, check the SF school district. They are always looking for volunteers.

              1. pane - are you IN the bay area? look at the alice waters foundation, the edible schoolyard, and the rest! I thought about doing it but I just didn't have the time... there should be instructions on alice waters' website...

                1. www.culinarycorps.org

                  Currently, they are recruiting culinary professionals for a week-long outreach trip to New Orleans, LA from September 14-21. A great way to connect your culinary skills with a city still in need two years after the hurricane. Plus, you get to travel with a group of like-minded individuals who know that great food helps create great communities.

                  1. www.idealist.org also has some great opportunities. Type in key words "cooking" or "culinary" when doing a search.

                    1. I don't know if you are familiar with the organization Family House, but they have locations around the country. They provide a home away from home for seriously ill paitients and families. My mom volunteers at one in Pittsburgh and said that people will come in to her location and cook dinner or a cake or something for the guests. Some people just use the kitchen and then leave what they have prepared, and others involve the guests. I've been thinking of looking into it as an activity for my cooking club in Boston to take part in.

                      1. I have a couple of ideas for you. Along the Meals on Wheels line, you could look into an organization in your area that serves a population with a specific need. When I lived in Philly, I used to volunteer at MANNA (metropolitan AIDS neighborhood nutrition alliance) that was a meals on wheels for people living with HIV and AIDS. The meal programs where very specifically tailored to peoples dietary needs resulting from their illnesses. And the kitchen work is fun; you're usually working in a team on a shift and are assigned a specific dish or task to prepare. I know organizations like this exist across the country. Here in LA they have project Angel Food and Seattle has one as well.

                        If you're more into working with kids directly, I would suggest something along the lines of Family House mentioned above. The Ronald McDonald house in your area is another good option. They're always looking for kitchen volunteers, people to sponsor group meals, or people to do a baking/cooking project with the kids in the house. There are a lot of really good ideas already posted in this thread. Good luck with your search!

                        1. Any home for "displaced youth" would be good (halfway house). Look for one that accepts ages 12-17 because their daily curriculum will include things like teaching the children how to plan, shop for, and cook their own meals.