Earlier this week I volunteered at the Winnipeg Foodshare Co-op. I barely consider this volunteering. Yep, I put in my time for no cash but I came home with probably two weeks worth of fruit and veggies.
The WFC is relatively new here and is modeled on the Good Food Box program in Toronto. It started out in September in the West Broadway and North End neighbourhoods as a way to bring healthy, accessible, affordable produce to our city’s food desserts but has since expanded to include all of Winnipeg.
As a volunteer, I work a four hour shift packing the food boxes (well, bags, actually) and cleaning up. Lunch is included and I get take home an individual box. In the box this week were 3 apples, 3 bananas, 1 broccoli crown, 1 cucumber, 1 head of garlic, 2 kiwi, 1 lemon and 1 large potato. But because when the orders are place with the distributor it isn’t for an exact amount, and because some of the produce that arrives isn’t good enough to include in the box, both times that I’ve volunteered I’ve come away with much more than just the individual bag.
The first time I volunteered, I came home with a ton of onions and made a delicious French onion soup. Yesterday my bag also included mushrooms, 2 onions, 1 sweet potato, 3 extra lemons, 1 extra broccoli crown, 2 extra bananas, and 2 extra heads of garlic. I had to pack everything in paper because it takes about 25 minutes to walk home and it was – 32 C but everything arrived unfrozen. Even the bananas didn’t turn black.
As much as I really, really, really want a job, I will miss being able to do stuff like this. And not just for the free food. It’s super nice to meet people in my neighbourhood that I might not otherwise cross paths with and the woman who runs the program is truly lovely. Since I’m not currently working, volunteering is a good way to get out of the house and connect with people, rather than spending all my time in front of the computer looking for work, plunking away at my thesis and getting cabin fever.