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As Australia celebrates National Volunteer Week, FareShare has novel plans to recognise our wonderful 1,500-strong unpaid work force in Victoria and Queensland.

While social distancing measures have caused FareShare to suspend 800 of our regular kitchen volunteers in Melbourne and 445 in Brisbane, their contribution will not be forgotten.

In Melbourne, FareShare is connecting all regular crews including the 200 garden, driving and warehouse volunteers who have been able to continue their support, with 30 tea breaks via Zoom.

In Brisbane, volunteers are being invited to a click and collect celebration and thank you.

Rosemary Kelly, FareShare’s volunteer programs manager in Melbourne, said the pandemic has caused a break in volunteering for the first time in FareShare’s 20-year history with the safe rotation of hundreds of volunteers unmanageable in the confined kitchen areas. 

“From our earliest days cooking 300 pies a week to thousands of meals every day in two states, volunteers have always been the heart of FareShare,” said Ms Kelly. 

“Whether they are still with us physically or are following our progress virtually, our volunteers remain absolutely committed. This year it is more important than ever that we connect them to FareShare and each other during National Volunteer Week.

“We are organising 30 Zoom tea breaks with each of our crews to show our appreciation to them and celebrate their wonderful contribution to our mission at this difficult time.”

On March 28, FareShare suspended kitchen volunteers and switched to skilled teams of hospitality workers laid off during the pandemic thanks to generous support from ALH Group, Woolworths and the Victorian Government.

According to FareShare’s annual volunteer survey in Victoria, 69 per cent of our volunteers who have been able to continue their community contribution during COVID-19 have experienced positive mental health outcomes while more than 99 per cent of those who have had to step down say they are likely to return when they can.

We thank all our volunteers for making a difference to people doing it tough and look forward to welcoming them back.