Food Outreach Volunteer Program in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City
Inspired to be a Food Outreach volunteer in Vietnam? International Volunteer HQ’s Food Outreach project is a great opportunity for volunteers to make a meaningful difference to the lives of people in Ho Chi Minh City who aren’t able to feed themselves and their families. Volunteers gain community outreach and cooking experience while working at a soup kitchen where low-income workers, the elderly and others choose to pay what little they can afford for a hearty lunch.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from CA$421 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Serve cheap, nutritious food to locals who couldn’t otherwise afford it
Get to know the friendly people of Vietnam
Stay with other volunteers in a vibrant district of Ho Chi Minh
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
For many locals in Ho Chi Minh City, food is expensive and unaffordable. However, local soup kitchens are available to all and provide a high value meal every lunchtime. Volunteer assistance is important to help keep these kitchens open and serving meals to those who need them.
Meals are available for a fraction of the price of other options. Locals prefer to pay for meals, even if it’s a very low price, to avoid the stigma of accepting free food. The soup kitchen is popular and busy, serving up to 800 meals to low-income workers, the elderly and anyone else who requires lunch.
As a Food Outreach volunteer your role is to provide assistance with:
- Food preparation
- Cooking meals
- Serving customers
- Cleaning up after meal times
Why do Food Outreach volunteering in Ho Chi Minh with IVHQ?
When you volunteer in Vietnam you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Improving access to food sources for disadvantaged communities
- Supporting local initiatives to increase food security
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining cooking and food preparation experience
- Immersing yourself in Vietnamese culture
- Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
- Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- Volunteers aged 16-18 are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?
Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.Apply For Free
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Vietnam photo gallery
Academic course credit
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”Seeing all of the people’s faces when presenting them with food and the the overwhelming sense of happiness I got from making other people smile over the smallest things was the biggest impact for me. Just do it, it was so worth it regardless of how scary it was at the start.”
Read reviews from Food Outreach volunteers in Ho Chi MinhSee more reviews
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is home to IVHQ’s Vietnam program. With high-tech industry, upmarket hotels, skyscrapers, shopping malls and buzzing nightlife, the city has a modern, dynamic atmosphere tempered by reminders of its history under French colonial rule and of its fall during the Vietnam War. While Vietnam has made great economic strides since then, the country is still recovering from the war and many people, especially ethnic minorities and those in rural areas, live without the basic necessities of life or find them difficult to access. Volunteers are needed to support efforts that help to further reduce poverty and hunger for these vulnerable people.
Arrival and orientation
The program orientation begins every Monday, and volunteers need to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City. 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 to the volunteer accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Vietnam prior to your volunteer program, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation on the day before your program orientation.
There are two options for orientation in Vietnam, a One-day Orientation and the Introduction Week Orientation.
One-day Orientation: This begins on your selected start date and all volunteers will attend. It covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Vietnam, including an introduction to the Vietnam program, the local team, general rules and a class on the local culture and language. In the afternoon, you’ll learn about the local projects, go on a walking tour of the local area, and arrange your SIM card. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Introduction Week Orientation: The Introduction Week begins on your selected start date and runs for five days. This option is very popular among IVHQ volunteers as you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese culture, a true appreciation of local life and have extra time to bond with your fellow volunteers. You’ll also get to see some of Ho Chi Minh’s notable landmarks, visit markets and take a Vietnamese cooking class. Plus, it’s a great way to help settle the culture shock you can face when arriving in Vietnam.
Introduction Week does incur an additional Add on for US$400 (approximately CA$562) to cover the additional costs. If you wish to participate in the Introduction Week, you can indicate this on your application form or let your Program Manager know once you have been accepted.
Volunteer schedule example
After the initial orientation day or week, you will work for approximately 4 to 6 hours per day. A typical schedule:
|7:30 AM||Breakfast at the college restaurant.|
|8:00 AM||Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at.|
|12:00 PM||Lunch break. Lunch is served at the college restaurant or at the placement. However; volunteers are free to buy their own lunch at their expense, which will usually cost between CA$2 - CA$5.|
|2:00 - 5:00 PM||Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day or do some shopping and sightseeing.|
|6:00 PM||Dinner at the volunteer accommodation.|
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Ho Chi Minh City or Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh itself boasts an incredible number of things to see and do. You could find yourself gazing up at the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, or down at the lights of the city below from a bar on the rooftop of a towering skyscraper. You might pick your way through the local morning markets, sample the city’s mind-blowingly delicious street food, squeeze through the underground Cu Chi tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war or admire a selection of ornate temples and pagodas.
Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to engage in tourist activities, such as trekking, joining Vietnamese history tours and visiting the Mekong Delta.
Accommodation and WiFi
You’ll stay in an IVHQ volunteer dormitory at a tourism college which is a 30-minute drive from the tourist area of Ho Chi Minh City.
You can expect to share a room with up to 8 other volunteers, all sleeping in bunk beds. Living conditions are basic; however, there is air conditioning and fans for the hotter months. The showers are with cold running water (nice and refreshing in the hot weather!) While bedding is provided, it is recommended that you bring your own sleeping bag/silk liner (these can be purchased in Vietnam) and a mosquito net if you wish to travel during the weekends.
WiFi is available in the volunteer dormitory, however the connection can be slow so we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Vietnam. The local team can assist you with this during your program orientation.
Some placements are located relatively close to the volunteer accommodation, however in some instances, volunteers may need to travel by public bus for 30 to 40 minutes to their placements. If this is the case, you will be accompanied by a member of the local team for the first 2 or 3 days to ensure that you know where to go and can find your way around easily.
Volunteers in Ho Chi Minh City are served three meals per day during the week.
Breakfast is usually toast, cereal, fruit, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are typically traditional Vietnamese fare and include a wide variety of rice, noodle and soup dishes with plenty of vegetables, meats and fresh herbs. On the weekends volunteers are only served brunch and dinner.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||CA$421 Equivalent to CA$60/day|
|2 weeks||CA$646 Equivalent to CA$46/day|
|3 weeks||CA$871 Equivalent to CA$42/day|
|4 weeks||CA$1097 Equivalent to CA$39/day|
|5 weeks||CA$1322 Equivalent to CA$38/day|
|6 weeks||CA$1547 Equivalent to CA$37/day|
|8 weeks||CA$1856 Equivalent to CA$33/day|
|10 weeks||CA$2165 Equivalent to CA$31/day|
|12 weeks||CA$2461 Equivalent to CA$29/day|
|16 weeks||CA$3051 Equivalent to CA$27/day|
|20 weeks||CA$3642 Equivalent to CA$26/day|
|24 weeks||CA$4233 Equivalent to CA$25/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- 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 CA$462) 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 CAD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
Recommended activities and tour add-ons
We believe that no volunteer adventure would be complete without experiencing the natural and cultural wonders of your host country. That’s why we offer an exciting Introduction Week to IVHQ volunteers in Vietnam as an affordable add-on.
|DAY 1||Start off with an introduction to the Vietnam program, the local team, general rules and a class on the local culture and language. In the afternoon, learn about the local projects, go on a walking tour of the local area, and arrange your sim card.|
|DAY 2||Start the morning off visiting some famous places in Ho Chi Minh City, such as the Reunification Palace, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, and the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Spend the afternoon visiting the Opera House, Walking street, last stop at the famous Ben Thanh Market symbol of Ho Chi Minh City.|
|DAY 3||Spend your morning learning the art of Vietnamese cuisine at a cooking class. Your afternoon consists of bracelet making, followed by a visit to the local markets which are near to the volunteer accommodation.|
|DAY 4||You will have the opportunity to visit one of the most popular museums in VietNam “ War Remnant Museum” , after that discover a religious site, the Vietnamese National Pagoda. Next visit will be the beautiful Flower Market and the last stop is Local street food market. It’s time for you to enjoy your real local food|
|DAY 5||You’ll spend the day visiting the most famous historical site in the city - the Cu Chi Tunnels, a must to see in Ho Chi Minh city. Here you will experience and learn about the North Vietnamese soldiers lives during the Vietnam War. After the tour you will begin your introduction to your volunteer placement and receive the placement-specific orientation.|
The Introduction week will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Please note that if you decide to join Introduction in-country, that it incurs a different set of fees, which the local team will discuss with you. It is a slight increase, so make sure you sign up prior to arriving.
How to book IVHQ’s recommended add-ons:
Ready to join? Please see the add-on options in your MyIVHQ checklist or email your IVHQ Program Manager and they will add this to your file.
Check what's required to visit Vietnam
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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.
Essential country information
|Currency||Vietnamese Dong (VND)|
Weather and climate
Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate, with humidity averaging 84 per cent throughout the year. However, because of differences in latitude and diverse geography, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place.