Get to Know a Volunteer – Amy Farahbakhsh

Quest is heavily indebted to the work of all of its volunteers. From 2012 to 2014, Amy Farahbakhsh – a master’s student at UBC focusing on the topic of food recovery – was one of our key volunteer contributors.

An Ontario transplant, Amy originally worked at the front desk doing everything from processing referrals to helping with the newsletter to training new volunteers. But over the course of her 24 months with Quest, she transitioned to working in the distribution center as a warehouse assistant where she helped with record-keeping, donor relations, and price look-ups.

“I will also always remember the nurturing volunteer environment at Quest, and that people of all abilities were welcomed and involved in some capacity. Quest provides such a positive environment, and it began to feel like my second home and second family,” said Amy, seen here at Quest reception.

Recently, Amy graciously took some time out of her extraordinarily busy schedule to share her thoughts on volunteering with Quest.

When asked what led to her involvement with our organization, Amy harkened back to her (presumably) halcyon days out east:

When I lived in London, Ontario, I remember hearing about Second Harvest, which is an organization based in Toronto. I really liked the idea of putting to use food that would otherwise be wasted, but was very disappointed that I could not volunteer at Second Harvest since I didn’t live in Toronto. When I moved to Vancouver and found out that Quest was a similar organization doing food recovery work, I started volunteering ASAP. … [The] goal of the organization, namely avoiding needless waste … drew me to volunteer.

And when questioned on the most rewarding part of her volunteer experience, Amy was quick to highlight the relationships she built with her coworkers:

[W]ork[ing] with the employees and other volunteers has been a highlight for me. I got to know a handful of regular volunteers and staff, who were all lovely people with a range of backgrounds and strengths. The staff that I had the pleasure of working with and learning from were awesome people and very gracious and welcoming. I will also always remember the nurturing volunteer environment at Quest, and that people of all abilities were welcomed and involved in some capacity. Quest provides such a positive environment, and it began to feel like my second home and second family.

In addition to helping with her master’s thesis, Amy also found that her volunteer work with Quest was a welcome respite from the rigors of academic life and allowed her to build skills that make her a more desirable employee. (Trifecta!)

I was really excited to volunteer at Quest because of its unique environment that was very different from the school environment. I really liked it because it gave me a way of learning more about, and contributing to cause that I believe in – reducing food waste. …
The diversity of roles and flexibility at Quest allowed me to build skills such as working with a range of people, dealing with different types of information, [and] managing difficult and stressful situations with clients … I really value the skills that I built through my volunteering at Quest – skills that complemented those that I gained in my program – and they continue to help me as I seek out jobs.

Sadly, Amy’s time with Quest has come to an end, but we’ll always be grateful for the invaluable contributions she provided! The time and effort of volunteers like her are integral to Quest fulfilling its mission.

Volunteer Speaks Out

As a non-profit organization, Quest relies heavily on volunteer support to help reduce hunger with dignity. Here’s what one of our new volunteers Zoe had to say about volunteering at Quest:

Zoe takes a hands-on approach with braille signage, now in our 2020 Dundas market location.
Zoe takes a hands-on approach with braille signage, now in our 2020 Dundas market location.

Volunteering has always been a great passion of mine, and

volunteering at Quest has given me the opportunity to give back to the organization that has already given me so much. I first heard about Quest’s services through my university, which was not only a huge help to myself but it also provided me with the opportunity to engage with the community in a safe and positive place. I decided to volunteer at Quest because I feel as though it is an extremely important organization to thousands of people. Good health and nutrition is a necessity and breaking down the barriers to this can be a challenge, which is why Quest is so important. By volunteering, I feel like I am doing my part in contributing to this cause. Quest is an amazing organization and I am proud to be a part it!

– Zoe Willmott

Thank you for all of your help Zoe!

My First Contact With Quest

Benjamin helped paint this large mural of the Burnaby Carousel, along with other artists at My Artist’s Corner which is an art-based program associated with CMHA Echo Burnaby, one of the over 400 social service agency partners of Quest.

Volunteer, Benjamin Kaye, shares his thoughts on Quest:

My first contact with Quest Food Exchange was when one of the community outreach speakers came to the CMHA Burnaby location to explain how the exchange works and invite us to join. The concept is simple and very powerful to those of us on a limited food budget.

Donated foods nearing the end of their shelf life are safely available at very reasonable prices in a shopping style store. We can choose the foods that we want and our food dollars go much farther. We are buying our own food, which promotes our self-respect.

There is also the opportunity to volunteer in a variety of ways to help keep the wheels turning: warehouse distribution, shelf stocking and office duties to name a few. Volunteering is a great way to help Quest operations, join in community participation and gain work experience.

For those of us who are currently unemployed, food is a large part of our budget, after housing. Quest is an incredible resource that helps us stretch our food dollar with a variety of wholesome foods. We are very fortunate to live in a society that is so bountiful in food resources. We are even more fortunate that there is an organization like Quest that is able to both provide food resources to those in need and at the same time save food that might otherwise end up being wasted and thrown away.

There is a strong need for a food exchange that empowers individuals in need to be able to stretch their food dollar and choose their foods in a shopping style environment. Kudos to the Quest Food Exchange for providing this much-needed access to affordable food!

Ben Kaye


Thank you Benjamin!

Why I love Quest

Jeremie, Quest volunteer.
We appreciate Jeremie’s efforts at Quest, and for taking the time to provide us with this feedback.

Jeremie has been volunteering intermittently for the past year, helping out in the office one afternoon per week. When asked to tell us why he volunteers with us, he had the following thoughts to share:

I find it incredible what Quest Food Exchange is doing and wholeheartedly support it. What really clicked with me is how Quest is being efficient with what our society has, and not being wasteful. To go beyond that and to be redistributing this food to people who can really benefit from quality food at a reduced price is something we can all stand for. When I think of all the efforts, costs, and environmental impacts of growing and transporting our food, and then think of it going to waste, it’s shocking. It frustrates and saddens me, it’s a real shame.

It feels fantastic to be working for an organization that touches on so many social practices that I believe in, whether it is sustainability through proper composting and recycling, or the value of reallocating healthy foods that nourish people from all walks of life. Finally, by giving opportunities to people seeking practical work experience increases their self-esteem and helps them get back into the job market; thus building community. Not only are individuals being provided with food, but also helping to reduce the amount of loss and waste from various branches of the food supply chain. For example, I learned that many of our suppliers simply need to make room for new orders. Instead of throwing it out they donate it to us.

VCC Student Helps out at Quest

Emily helped out at Quest’s administrative offices for 10 days in April.

Recently, we had a practicum student, Emily Flett, from VCC’s Administrative Assistant program help out at Quest’s 2020 Dundas office. Emily generously took on the task of organizing our testimonials for digital upload to the Downloads section of our website. Here is what Emily had to say about her experience:

My time at Quest was one of the best-quality learning experiences I’ve had the opportunity to embark on. As an almost graduated Administrative Assistant student from Vancouver Community College, I was lucky enough to complete my 10 day practicum by volunteering at Quests upstairs office.

My time at Quest was nothing like I had anticipated, having been slightly unsure of what Quest really represented, it was exciting to uncover the true spirit of Quest. I had the wonderful task of organizing the testimonials written by, volunteers, clients and food suppliers, and after reading multiple testimonials I was completely blown away by the amount of appreciation and love that was written by those who were touched by Quest’s helping hand.

Born and raised in the east-end, I know the struggles many are faced with every single day, and I am just thrilled I was able to play a small role in helping my community out. Quest really does so much more than providing affordable foods to those in need, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All the heart and soul put in to this place by everyone’s involvement, from the clients to the amazing office team, Quest really is one of the best organizations to get involved in.

My time here was well spent, and I hope to continue volunteering in the future. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of something so uplifting, and I wish Quest all the best.

Emily Flett