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Volunteering in a school kitchen garden program : cooking up confidence, capabilities and connections!
journal contributionposted on 2014-02-01, 00:00 authored by Mardie TownsendMardie Townsend, Lisa Gibbs, Susie MacfarlaneSusie Macfarlane, K Block, Petra StaigerPetra Staiger, Lisa GoldLisa Gold, B Johnson, Caroline Long
This paper reports on the evaluation of a kitchen garden program in primary schools in Victoria, Australia. It focuses on the motivations, impacts, and issues associated with volunteering in the program. The study revealed that volunteers are drawn from a range of sources, including: families of current and former students, former teachers, local residents, clients of aged care and/or disability services, other schools and communities, local universities, community organizations, the community services sector, and the corporate sector. Benefits to volunteers included: opportunities to use time productively, an increased sense of belonging, learning opportunities, and an increased sense of self-worth and enjoyment. For schools, volunteers enhanced engagement between the school and the local community, enabled them to engage more effectively with hard to reach groups, and increased student engagement. In addition, the involvement of volunteers improved the sustainability of the program, improved communication between teachers and families of students from minority ethnic groups, and gave students the chance to relate to new people, to learn from their experience and to have fun in working with the volunteers. Perhaps the most telling benefits to flow both to students and to volunteers were not the “three Rs—reading, w’riting and a’rithmetic” but the three Cs—confidence, capabilities, and connections. However, a clearly identified issue was the importance of matching volunteers’ motivations and needs with the roles they play to sustain current levels of volunteering and, therefore, the program itself.