Volunteers who collect food from supermarkets are the core of Norwich FoodHub; however, a lot goes on behind the scenes. We want to introduce you to some of the people on the management team who keep the FoodHub engine running. So, meet Sarah...
Hi Sarah, could you introduce yourself for us?
I'm the Project Manager of Norwich FoodHub, but my day-job is running the Placement scheme for PhD students at the Norwich Research Park. I live with my 7 year old son and love spending time at my allotment.
When and why did you first become involved with FoodHub?
I signed up as a volunteer for Norwich FoodHub a couple of years ago. I saw an advert for what the FoodHub does and was struck by what a great idea it is. I’ve been along to most stores now to do collections and used to regularly volunteer for M&S city on the bike when we had our old unit in the city centre. I now tend to do Sunday collections when I can and I take my son along with me so I can help teach him the importance of fighting food waste and helping others.
I took on the role of Project Manager around a year ago, as I was keen to get more involved and felt I had a lot of skills and energy that could help NFB run on a day to day basis.
What does FoodHub’s mission of ‘saving food and fighting hunger’ mean to you personally?
Food waste (and waste in general) is one of my pet hates - the resources put in to producing all of this food, the packaging that goes around them, the energy it takes to transport it etc, has an impact on our planet and for this to all end up in the bin just seems craziness. I’m passionate about environmental issues and try to live my life as sustainably as possible - I’m vegetarian and try to grow as much of my own food as I can.
The idea of perfectly good food going to waste, whilst some people are unable to feed themselves is just crazy so anything we can do to alleviate this issue is great.
This coupled with the fact that there are people in our community that can’t afford to feed themselves makes FoodHub’s mission seem like a total no brainer!
We’d like to know more of what goes on behind the scenes of FoodHub. What does your role involve on a day-to-day basis, as the Project Manager?
I spend a lot of time coordinating things, responding to emails from partners and volunteers and generally making sure everything goes smoothly! We now work with around 16 partner organisations, so our daily collection schedule gets quite complicated, especially as some partners sometimes ask for changes in their day etc, so I have to keep track of these and make sure messages get passed on to the hub leaders. I also work closely with our volunteers, welcoming new people and remaining as the first point of contact for them when they have any queries. Being a volunteer myself I know how important it is to have a quick response to any questions we get so I always try and get back to people when they ask anything.
How could we see Norwich FoodHub grow even more and make a bigger impact?
I think if we can expand our collection base to more stores we could save even more food from waste. But we do struggle sometimes with filling up our collection slots so having more volunteers really is key. This would allow us to work with new partners and help even more of those that need it. From our work with the Food Alliance, it’s obvious that there are a lot of people in Norwich doing different things so being involved in this is helping us coordinate our approach.