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Food Rescue Volunteer Project in Spain - Barcelona

Food Rescue Volunteer Project in Spain - Barcelona

Want to help combat food waste in Spain so it can be redistributed to people in need? International Volunteer HQ’s Food Rescue project in Barcelona enables you to recover food that would be thrown away by local supermarkets and package it up for those who cannot afford to feed themselves or their families. Volunteers gain experience in food rescue and outreach community initiatives, while helping eliminate food waste and end hunger for vulnerable communities, such as homeless people, the elderly, and families in need.

  • Programs start every second and fourth Monday of the month
  • Affordable fees from AU$1988 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and lunch, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Redistribute unused food to hundreds of locals in need

  • Relax on Spain’s amazing beaches

  • Stay in a modern, socially driven hostel in Barcelona

Key information

Help end hunger & food waste
Local community initiatives
Dormitory-style hostel
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from AU$1988 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 12 weeks
Spanish language lessons available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who like being active, hands-on, care about sustainability and food security and want to help end hunger for vulnerable people.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

In Catalonia 262,000 tonnes of food is wasted annually. Of all the food that is purchased by restaurants, shops and families, around 7% is wasted each year. In Barcelona, there are numerous initiatives trying to combat food waste, however, most of these initiatives depend on volunteers. On this program, you will join local partners to redistribute leftover food from local supermarkets to social organizations, disadvantaged people, struggling families and other people in need.

As a Food Rescue volunteer in Barcelona, you’ll be helping make a real difference by fighting food waste. Tasks will include:

  • Collecting and selecting food from local supermarkets
  • Storing the food and preparing food packages
  • These food packages are then distributed to different associations across Barcelona City
  • Depending on the day, the food that is being prepared can range from canned food to large amounts of fruit and vegetables
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger

Current estimates show that 8.9% of the population are hungry, with the global pandemic threatening to double that number. Swift action needs to be taken to provide food and humanitarian relief, whilst agriculture and food production must become more sustainable.

Why do Food Rescue volunteering in Barcelona with IVHQ?

As a Food Rescue volunteer in Spain you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving food security for vulnerable people
  • Helping reduce food waste
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining food outreach experience
  • Immersing yourself in the Spanish way of life
  • Discovering Spain’s Catalonia region

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.

  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Sadie Yoder
29 Jan 2024

IVHQ and the local team were great - I was able to reach out with questions and get feedback in a timely manner. The orientation was very helpful and comprehensive. The local center we worked with was so sweet and patient with me and my language limitations. Volunteering in a new culture can be uncomfortable or awkward at times, but it is very worth it! You won't regret the experience or new friends you make.

Erika Poynter
20 Dec 2023

I gained a lot of insight towards my future endeavors. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the team within the kitchen, as well as the extra programs I briefly joined. It gave me a lot of reassurance about what I want to do with my career and how I want to direct it. I didn’t have any reservations but I can empathize with the international aspect. I would encourage anyone on the fence to open their hearts to experiencing the world and trying to rehabilitate it. There’s a significant amount of value to humbling yourself an apolitical way for the good of the world.

Macy Hubbard
02 Aug 2023

The preparation checklist was really helpful and so were the email reminders, they helped me to stay organized. Also, thanks to my Program Manager for being there to answer any questions I had and for always responding so quickly! The in-country volunteer coordinator was so amazing and I felt so grateful to have her there to guide me. She was available no matter what time it was.

My favorite moment was meeting the children on the first day of my placement, they were so excited to meet me and welcomed me with open arms. I will never ever forget it! I learnt more about myself and realized that it's so important to live in the moment and take everything in. Jump right in and do it - it’s scary at first but will turn out to be the most incredible adventure where you will learn so much about yourself and the world around you.

Lorena Sanchez
26 Apr 2023

GO GO GO! I promise you will not regret it, the connections you will make, the things you will learn, and the growth you will undergo is incredible. My favorite moment from the volunteer experience was being able to be a part of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebration. It was an absolutely beautiful experience to see them make speeches and dance together. Seeing the smiles on their faces truly warmed my heart. Volunteering taught me a multitude of things and has been a life-changing experience. The way I was able to bond and connect with so many individuals left a positive mark on me.

Leanne Richardson
06 Oct 2022

If you're considering it then you're half way there ... just do it! You'll be glad you did. Molly was very helpful and quick to respond. The guide was very useful as well. The whole team in Barcelona was amazing! So helpful and knowledgeable. The food had a good taste, was freshly served, and the staff were helpful. It was an amazing experience, and quite humbling to see how much work the sanctuary had to put in with so little funding. I wish I could have done more, and I will be booking another project as soon as I can. I've caught the travel bug!


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

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Volunteer Abroad in Barcelona, Spain with IVHQ


Catalonia is a region in northern Spain with its own distinct culture. Barcelona is its capital and melds millennia of history with modern life in a way that creates a vivid, stylish city with a vibrant atmosphere. It’s rich with the art and architecture of Gaudi and Picasso; home to FC Barcelona - one of the world’s best football teams; loaded with remnants of its ancient Roman past; stacked with beautiful beaches and parks and known for its mouth-watering cuisine. The IVHQ Spain volunteer program in Barcelona hosts a popular range of meaningful volunteer work. The dedicated local team supports volunteers 24/7 as they’re immersed in local life, helping you to develop an authentic understanding of this iconic destination. Volunteer placements are located throughout the wider city area of Barcelona. Some placements are up to a 90-minute commute, which can be on different means of public transport.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the second and fourth Monday of every month, and volunteers need to arrive in Barcelona on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN). Your airport pick-up is included in your program fee.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported via Metro and bus to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your program fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Spain prior to your volunteer program and arriving overland, we will provide you with a time and place to meet the local team in Barcelona on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Spain team in Barcelona. It begins the morning of your chosen start date and lasts for a full day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Spain – an introduction to Spain and Barcelona, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities, an introduction to project and placement as well as a tour of the local area and a basic Spanish language lesson. The orientation will also give you a chance to sign up for additional Spanish language lessons and to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising .

Volunteer schedule example


After the initial orientation, you will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift at your placement and will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day. Please note that start times and daily workload depends on the specific project that you are participating on.

A typical daily schedule is as follows:

7:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Volunteers with a morning shift travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on their project.
1:00 - 3:00 PM Lunch is served at the accommodation.
2:30 PM Volunteers with an afternoon or evening shift travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on their project.
8:00 - 10:00 PM Most volunteers choose to eat dinner at this time. There are restaurants close by to the volunteer accommodation or you can prepare your own dinner in the communal kitchen.


On your free weekends in Spain, visit Gaudi’s unfinished yet still iconic La Sagrada Familia church, catch a football match, try a local paella, sunbathe on an incredible beach or wander the streets of Les Ramblas to Barcelona’s city centre.

Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield in Spain including; Granada, Valencia, Madrid and many other places. Volunteers can make travel arrangements once in Barcelona, with the advice and guidance of our local team.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style hostel about 10 - 15 minutes from the city centre of Barcelona. You can expect to share a room with up to seven other people of the same gender. The hostel also caters to independent travelers and groups who book rooms from time to time for varying lengths of stay. Every volunteer will have access to their own locker to store valuables and other personal belongings. The hostel has shared bathrooms equipped with western toilets and showers in each room. Bedding is provided for each volunteer. Volunteers can also enjoy a shared living room, kitchen and large outdoor terrace. There is staff who clean the accommodation throughout the week; however, volunteers are required to keep their rooms tidy.

WiFi is available in the volunteer accommodation and can be accessed from many cafes and restaurants in the area. A local SIM card with data can also be purchased for unlocked phones.

Private rooms in the hostel with shared or private bathrooms can be arranged upon request for an additional cost, subject to availability.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and lunch each day.

Breakfast is self-serve at the volunteer accommodation and includes fruit, bread, jam, cereal, milk, tea, and coffee. Lunch is provided in the accommodation according to a fixed menu. Meals will include pasta, rice, meat, seafood, vegetable and salad dishes as well as some typical Spanish dishes.

Volunteers who wish to spend the day in the city and require a packed lunch can request this the day prior.

Tap water is fine to drink in Spain; however, bottled water is readily available if you prefer and you should budget approximately US$5 (approximately AU$8) per week for this.


  • USD
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks AU$1991 Equivalent to AU$142/day
3 weeks AU$2729 Equivalent to AU$130/day
4 weeks AU$3468 Equivalent to AU$124/day
5 weeks AU$4207 Equivalent to AU$120/day
6 weeks AU$4945 Equivalent to AU$118/day
8 weeks AU$6423 Equivalent to AU$115/day
10 weeks AU$7900 Equivalent to AU$113/day
12 weeks AU$9378 Equivalent to AU$112/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$527) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, dinners, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Spain generally find US$100 to be sufficient for weekly expenses including dinners, transportation and miscellaneous spending.
  • Please note: You will need to budget an extra US$10 per night for the Barcelona City Tax, paid directly to the accommodation upon arrival.
  • Any changes or cancellations within 14 days of your start date are subject to a US$200 late change/cancellation fee.

Language lessons in Barcelona

Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers in Spain regardless of their ability. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and are taught by professional Spanish teachers. Classes run Monday through Friday, the cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.

  • 1 x 1 hour class = AU$70
  • 10 x 1 hour classes = AU$522 Spanish lessons can be booked through IVHQ once you have been accepted onto the Barcelona program.

Check what's required to visit Spain

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Madrid
Population 46.9 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone UTC+01:00

Weather and climate: Being such a large country, the climate of Spain is very varied. Barcelona and its metropolitan area has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Its average annual temperature is 21.2 °C (70.2 °F) during the day and 15.1 °C (59.2 °F) at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature ranges from 12 to 18 °C (54 to 64 °F) during the day and 6 to 12 °C (43 to 54 °F) at night. In the warmest month – August, the temperature ranges from 28 to 32 °C (82 to 90 °F) during the day and about from 20 to 24 °C (68 to 75 °F) at night. Large fluctuations in temperature are very rare.

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How to get started

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