Before recruiting volunteers it is a good idea to work out the main tasks that need to be done and produce a task list or role description for each one. Clearly allocating tasks that match people's capabilities and availability will help to ensure a thriving food co-op of motivated and commited volunteers. 

It is helpful to start out by considering how long each task will take. For example, if a food co-op wants to run a stall once a week from 10am-12pm, a volunteer would probably need to help for at least 3 hours per week. This amount of time will help to cover running the stall and allow time for setting up and packing up afterwards.

Tasks could also be divided up into the day-to-day activities involved in selling the produce. For instance, ordering the food from suppliers, serving customers, or packing bags or boxes. Volunteer tasks might also include other activities involved in the co-ordination and development (e.g. partnerships, marketing, funding application event participation, etc.) of the food co-op. 

When alllocating tasks, it's important to consider people's capabilities and preferences. For example, you may have volunteers who prefer not to count money, but are happy to put the produce out on display. Likewise, if a volunteer would like to get experience in a particular area, such as logistics or event organising and planning, then getting them involved in those areas through the food co-op is a great opportunity to do so.

If your food co-op is working with or is part of a larger organisation, such as a housing association or primary care trust, it may be that paid staff will take on some of the tasks. Alternatively, it may be an explicit aim of your organisation to help train volunteers to take on roles such as financial management, in which case tasks can be allocated as part of your plan for training or work experience.

To find more useful food co-op related information visit our homepage

Food Co-ops toolkit: The Food Co-ops Toolkit will give you all the information you need to set up your own food co-op.

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