Volunteers across Devon and Cornwall were recognised as Food Heroes at an annual event hosted by FareShare South West on October 19.

The event at Community Kitchen PL12 in Saltash celebrated all those who generously give their time, making an outstanding contribution to their team and to the local community.

FareShare South West began supporting Devon and Cornwall less than 18 months ago, but the impact made by the 72 volunteers at the warehouse in Plymouth is immense.

In 2023 so far, they’ve given 7,500 hours of their time — an average of 105 hours per volunteer — helping to get good-to-eat surplus from the food industry to 63 frontline charities and organisations like Community Kitchen PL12, who tackle the root causes of poverty.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, from younger people learning new skills and building their confidence to retirees keen to stay active and support their community.

Volunteer Vanessa said: “I had a banking career before, then did some volunteering with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau – but with COVID it all went online, and I was volunteering to meet people. The someone mentioned FareShare South West. I started to apply but I’d broken my wrist (falling off a spacehopper) and I couldn’t lift, so I withdrew the application. They called me anyway and said, with your background, could you do some admin for us? So here I am, and I’ve been here for about 18 months. I am enjoying it, it’s such a nice crowd.”

With demand for food from FareShare South West at an all-time high, support from volunteers is needed more than ever to help reach those in need.

Gener Joyner, CEO of FareShare South West said: “We are incredibly proud of all our volunteers, and are delighted to have an opportunity to thank and celebrate those that have gone above and beyond to help get more food to people who need it. They truly are the backbone of the operation here and play a crucial role in getting food to our communities. With demand skyrocketing due to the cost of living crisis, we are in urgent need of even more dedicated volunteers to join our team, in a variety of roles, so if you have time to spare and would like to work with us please get in touch.”

George Wright, CEO of FareShare said: “Hunger in the UK isn’t a problem; it’s a crisis. To tackle a crisis you need people to step up and do extraordinary things. That’s what’s happening at our sites up and down the country every day – people are giving their time to make sure that good-to-eat food gets to charities and people in need. Drivers cover miles in all weathers to deliver food to community centres; our warehouse teams carefully pick nutritious produce to go to school clubs.

“We are enormously thankful to everyone across the UK who gives their time to help us continue our vital work. So many of our charities are experiencing skyrocketing demand for their services that food from FareShare is needed more than ever before. Anyone who can donate their time to us will be making a huge difference to getting good food to people and preventing it going to waste.”

Find out more about volunteering at FareShare South West at faresharesouthwest.org.uk/volunteer