Looking for a volunteer food prep opportunity in NYC
December 12, 2013 9:02 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to put in a few dozen to a hundred hours over the next year practicing cooking large amounts of food---far too large for me to buy and eat myself. Is there a place in New York where I could volunteer a few hours each weekend doing scutwork in somebody's kitchen? More specific criteria inside.

I'm asking on AskMe instead of just calling a few soup kitchens because I have a somewhat uncharitable requirement: I don't like large crowds of strangers and I would like some assurance that I would spend most of my time working in the back, not delivering things or serving people. My ideal place would just stick me in a corner with 50 lbs of potatoes to scrub, peel, and chop.

On the bright side, I'm happy to wait until after the holidays when fewer people are looking to volunteer and I can show up almost every week for months on end.
posted by d. z. wang to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
New York Cares provides training and can connect you with soup kitchens and other volunteer opportunities to suit your needs. What's nice about this org is that they provide tons of different options for volunteers. you can volunteer once, or if you like the place, keep going back and help run the projects:

posted by tabula rasa at 9:32 PM on December 12, 2013

Start with NY Cares, then, once you find an organization you like, you can just deal with them directly (for scheduling, tasks, etc). For most things, you'll need a food protection certification, or at least that will make it more likely that you find the work you want. The online course is free, then you sign up a for an in person exam.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:09 AM on December 13, 2013

I wanted to do this too actually. I ended up volunteering with God's Love We Deliver, chopping enormous amounts of vegetables. However, you do not do the cooking- and I found that to be the case with the various NYC Cares jobs I did as well.

Volunteering can be very fun and rewarding (and GLWD is a wonderful organization) but I actually was looking for exactly the same outcome as you and didn't quite find it. Will watch thread for further developments/other suggestions.
posted by bquarters at 4:49 AM on December 13, 2013

The Ali Forney Center (a homeless shelter for LGBT children) often uses volunteers for food prep.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:54 AM on December 13, 2013

Or...you could call up any number of catering companies and ask about becoming a 'student cook' and actually get paid for this. (It's important for many many reasons to never ever volunteer to work for free for a for-profit business, but that's another ball of wax)
You'll definitely encounter a wider range of recipes that way.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2013

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