Every semester, Embark takes time to acknowledge and celebrate our superstar volunteers. While we host semesterly volunteer socials, we have also created the Volunteer of the Semester award to recognize one or two volunteers that have gone above and beyond the scope of their role. This semester, we’ve given the award to Taegan McFarlane. Here is a quick interview about their experience as an Embark volunteer.
What are you studying at SFU?
Health Sciences (Life Sciences stream)
When did you join as a volunteer at Embark and what have you done here?
I started volunteering with Embark in January of 2018. I’ve primarily volunteered with the Food Rescue program, which is a partnership with Nesters Food Market and operates out of Blusson Hall – basically, we give away food that’s fine to eat but isn’t up to supermarket standards. I’m also an enthusiastic participant in Embark’s monthly community kitchens!
Why were you interested in volunteering at Embark?
Increasing access to food and decreasing food waste on campus felt like a good fit for me as someone who has experienced food insecurity and who cares about sustainability. I was also new to SFU and had learned from a previous experience at a university that volunteering is one of the best ways to meet people and make friends.
What are the benefits of volunteering at Embark?
So much food! Haha, and not just at the Food Rescue table; there are also community kitchens that are open for everyone – all of the ones I’ve gone to have been amazing. The Food Systems Change cohort meetings were great for connecting the work we do to global issues, and also created a larger sense of community within Embark as an organization. You feel valued as a volunteer; they take time to invest in you as a person.
What’s your favourite thing about Embark?
I think the biggest thing I appreciated was that Embark is really open to suggestions from their volunteers, and are committed to making their programs a safer space for students. I had some really vulnerable conversations with both program managers at Embark and always found myself supported and listened to. I love that they’ve centered social sustainability in their mandate, as it’s something that a lot of organizations miss.
What are your main takeaways from volunteering?
I’ve learned a lot about food waste, and a lot about how people relate to their food, whether that’s just with people stopping by the Food Rescue table or from presentations given at Embark events. I think my biggest takeaway is that the programs run by Embark are things we can do in our own communities – it’s a practical learning experience in that way.