While most Danes know of the Danish Food Bank, which distributes surplus food to deprived groups in Denmark, few are aware of the large-scale volunteering behind the success of this registered social enterprise.

This applies, for example, to the road delivery and distribution of food by active senior citizens. Two-thirds of the volunteer workforce of the Danish Food Bank are currently made up of men aged 60-plus.

“We are always advertising for volunteers on places like the national volunteering portal at frivilligjob.dk, within relevant networks and through our alliance with the union for skilled worker retirees,” says Karen-Inger Thorsen, Director of Danish Food Bank.

In spring 2016, the Danish Food Bank and Region Zealand formed a partnership. And in the autumn, the food bank started supplying surplus food to 17 schools under the local authorities of Lolland and Guldborgsund, where socially vulnerable children
often attend school without any breakfast and only a small packed lunch. For the Lolland-Falster routes, 20 volunteers needed to be recruited, and mature age was no object as long as they were up to the task.

By September, eight drivers had been found – five men and three women aged between 63 and 71. Since then, more have joined them.

“We conduct a ‘recruitment interview’ with each applicant, and arrange for basic training in food safety, the use of barcode scanners etc. The fixed delivery runs make for positive interaction between the volunteers and recipients of the food. For us, working with active senior citizens is a pleasure, and I am informed that many of them benefit personally from meaningful work and helping others.”

“The voluntary work has made me happier, and there’s the thrill of making a difference that helps others – not to mention doing my bit to prevent food wastage,” says Steen Pedersen, who hopes to be able to continue for many years ahead as a driver for Danish Food Bank.

The thrill of making af difference

Steen Pedersen, age 64, is one of the newvolunteer drivers who brings food out a couple of weeks to locations such as Lolland. He drives a fixed route one day a week, but readily does extra runs.
On taking early retirement after 44 years as a clerical worker with Gladsaxe local authority, Steen realised that he now had some time to spare. He was keen to do volunteer work in some capacity.

Steen visited the frivilligjob.dk online volunteering portal and was offered an interview with Danish Food Bank, where they decided that working as a driver might be just what he was looking for. He wanted to get out and about a bit, since he had been in a relatively sedentary job for many years. “I was keen to see a different side of life and meet new people. I get a lot out of being a driver, and it’s really nice to stop for coffee at a drop-off location when they take receipt of the food. I really had no idea that there was such a need for a helping hand in the form of extra food in different parts of society,” says Steen.

 

Questions about active senior citizens, please contact us:

Frank Ulmer Jørgensen
Senior Adviser, Head of programme, VELUX FONDEN
Phone: 
+ 45 29 41 81 35