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.”