Offering your time for the benefit of others can be one of the most rewarding experiences there is. If you're a foodie, why not combine your passion and energies by volunteering for a good cause with a food theme?
Here are six volunteer programs fit for foodies worldwide:
Argentina - Perfect your empanadas!
1) Community Outreach - Buenos Aires, Argentina
What you'll do: The program includes preparing food baskets, delivering them to families in need, cooking and serving food and snacks, and teaching local residents about healthy lifestyles and nutrition. This program also includes related activities like teaching and administrative tasks.
How you'll help: Although Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, is a vibrant cosmopolitan city, there are wide gaps between the rich and the poor. Volunteers help to bridge that gap and ensure that hundreds of residents' needs are met.
What you'll eat: Typical food in Argentina includes asado (barbequed meat), empanadas (pastries stuffed with meat), vegetables and corn, and dulce de leche (caramelized condensed milk - great on bread!).
Length: Minimum of 2 weeks
More info: Bridge Volunteers
2) Olive Harvest - Villa Pianciani Delizi, Spoleto, Italy
What you'll do: Working with sticks, sheets, and brightly colored ladders, volunteers harvest the olives off the trees and later aid in the pruning process. This program allows the opportunity to see the fruits of your labor processed into cold-pressed olive oil.
How you'll help: Assist Matilde Pianciani, a small cultural organization, to maintain the landscape, grounds, and villa of this olive farm, which is becoming increasingly costly to sustain.
What you'll eat: Typical delicious Umbrian dishes include pasta and risotto with black or white truffles, Spoleto's spicy tomato sauce, and, of course, olives.
Length: 1 to 2 weeks
More info: BTCV
India - Tea for as far as the eye can see!
3) Tea Plantation - Munnar, India
What you'll do: Help the local women pluck tea - this is done on a "two leaves and a bud" basis, meaning they pluck the two youngest leaves and one bud to ensure the best quality and sustainability of the plantation. Experienced pickers harvest 30 kilograms of tea leaves per day. Volunteers also assist by adding manure and implementing shading activities to improve temperature, humidity, and soil quality. Cardamom, jackfruit and other spices are also grown.
How you'll help: Assist the local women in the plucking activities and ensure that the plantation is maintained in its permanent vegetative state.
What you'll eat: Coconut, cassava, and rice are mainstays in this area of India. Because of its proximity to Kerala, fish curry and seafood are also popular.
Length: Minimum of 1 week
More info: World Unite
4) Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security - Tanzania
What you'll do: Attend training on innovations and techniques that can be used in farming to offer greater food security to communities. Volunteers then visit rural villages to teach these techniques. Areas of interest include developing bio-intensive agriculture, using sack gardens to grow vegetables, improving grain storage, and drying and reconstituting foods for use in cooking.
How you'll help: Increase the food security of families living in rural areas.
What you'll eat: Tanzanian food can be spicy with a heavy use of coconut milk. Rice, maize porridge and chapatti are popular alongside plantains, cassava and kebabs.
Length: Minimum of 2 weeks
More info: Global Service Corps
Vietnam - Help feed a village!
5) Soup Kitchen - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
What you'll do: Assist with the food preparation, including chopping vegetables. You will also have the opportunity to serve the food. Unlike many soup kitchens, the staff takes to the streets of the city delivering food by hand to the poor and to cancer patients in the hospital. Around 2,000 meals are prepared each day.
How you'll help: Provide vital food for the sick and poor within Vietnam.
What you'll eat: Vietnamese food includes large amounts of grilled meat, fish, and seafood, always served with a noodle or rice base. Try pho, noodle soup, and spring rolls.
Length: 1 to 48 weeks.
More info: Gap Year in Asia
6) Fruit Picking - Kibbutz Bram, Upper Galilee, Israel
What you'll do: During the summer fruit harvesting season, fruit picking--in particular, apples--is the main focus of a volunteer's day on the Kibbutz. Storing, refrigerating and packing the apples might also be involved as well as assisting in the dining room, laundry, garden, and kitchen.
How you'll help: Assist the Kibbutz community to sustain income from their agricultural activities.
What you'll eat: Hummus and pita bread are staples in Israel. Try Shakshuka for breakfast, a dish of tomatoes, eggs and cheese.
Length: Contact for details.
More info: Baram
Excited to volunteer? Which of these programs inspires your inner foodie?