No matter where your interests lie on the spectrum of nutrition, there is a volunteer project out there for you! Whether it is the use of sustainable practices in the growing process, the relationship between nutrition and community empowerment, or the medicinal benefits of healthy eating - volunteering in nutrition can allow you to put your passion to good use while exploring various parts of the world. Immerse yourself in a rich new culture, expand your own personal knowledge and skill set, and work to improve the lives of those less fortunate while volunteering abroad in nutrition.
Why Volunteer Abroad
Be the Change. Volunteering abroad in nutrition is for individuals that enjoy hands-on work that makes a visible difference in local communities. Most nutrition volunteer work abroad directly benefits underprivileged populations, and the widespread theme of nutritional education, across placements and locations, helps volunteers to introduce important steps toward long-term change.
Valuable Asset. Nutrition volunteering abroad can benefit more than just individuals who study or work in the field of nutrition - medical, public health, and agricultural students, professionals, and enthusiasts will also gain relevant career experience through nutrition volunteer work abroad.
High Experiential Return Rate. Instead of dividing tasks evenly among volunteers regardless of skill or experience, many nutrition volunteer programs (generally the medical and public health placements) will select placements for each volunteer based upon their qualifications and experience. Nutrition volunteers will therefore get more out of their experience depending on what they bring to the table and what effort they put in, so those with experience, passion, and a strong work ethic may find themselves allotted more responsibility and opportunities to really impact local communities.
The most popular locations for nutrition volunteering abroad include the Philippines, parts of Africa, and various South American countries. With exceptionally high rates of malnutrition and poverty, these countries are in constant need of volunteers to assist with both hands-on feeding programs and educational outreach. The direct impact on local communities and abundance of nutrition-focused placement options help make the following countries ideal for volunteers looking to gain experience in the field of nutrition, while making a real difference through volunteering abroad.
Philippines. Since malnutrition, chronic heart disease, diabetes, vitamin A deficiency, and a lack of emphasis on healthy eating remain an issue in many Filipino communities, nutrition volunteering programs are especially important in the Philippines. The high demand for education and feeding programs in both urban and rural areas create an abundance of volunteering opportunities for nutrition, while the widespread use of the English language makes it a desirable destination for those with limited foreign language skills. Over 7,000 islands, with plentiful sandy beaches and aquatic activities, ensure endless options for downtime exploration too, not to mention the happy-go-lucky vibe of natives that will make any volunteer fall in love with the Philippines.
Africa. Cameroon and Zimbabwe are two African countries that offer medical, public health, and research opportunities for volunteers interested in nutrition volunteer work abroad. Farming placements, which tend to have a high focus on nutrition, are also available in a few locations throughout Africa. High disease rates and superstitious beliefs make Africa an ideal location for nutrition volunteers to make a positive impact through education, and nutrition volunteer programs based in Antelope Park (a world renowned private game park in Zimbabwe) allow volunteers to help local communities while living near to the “Big 5”!
South America. Nutrition volunteering placements tend to vary by country in South America. The pristine Patagonia Mountains and vast wilderness of Argentina make sustainable farming practices a top priority for small-scale farmers, while the impoverished communities of Bolivia are in constant need of volunteers to assist with community outreach and the care of malnourished children. Additionally, both Peru and Ecuador offer various nutrition volunteer opportunities. South America is an excellent location for volunteers who want to work on their Spanish fluency, as some degree of language fluency is usually required to participate.
While some nutrition volunteering programs abroad are designed specifically for the field, the majority of nutrition volunteer opportunities will be found under more generic labels. While each includes nutrition-based tasks, each type will focus on different aspects of the field.
Community Development placements generally include volunteer work directly with impoverished, malnourished, or marginalized populations (especially children) and in stress education programs. Tasks can include planning, preparing, and distributing healthy balanced meals and supplements, weighing and monitoring malnourished children, and creating and implementing educational outreach campaigns in the local community.
Healthcare placements are geared more towards volunteers interested in the medical side of nutrition, and often require some level of education or experience in a relevant field. Tasks may vary based upon each volunteer’s qualifications, but can include: performing health screenings, recording and analyzing data, treating patients, promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle, and designing research studies.
Agriculture volunteering abroad is perfect for volunteers who are passionate about how food is grown, as they focus on teaching alternative techniques or implementing organic farming practices and sustainable land management. Tasks for agricultural volunteers might include learning, teaching, and implementing new techniques, planting new crops, building enclosures, and creating educational campaigns. Hosting workshops and increasing community knowledge and understanding is a substantial part of farming volunteer placements.
- The Right Fit. With a variety of placement options, nutrition volunteering can allow volunteers to hone in on the aspect of nutrition that most interests them, all while making a real difference and working toward a change they are passionate about.
- Community Involvement. Nearly all nutrition volunteering programs abroad maintain a strong focus on community education and involvement. Volunteers will enjoy engaging with the locals and immersing themselves in the host country while volunteering abroad.
- Take Initiative. Many nutrition volunteering opportunities allow volunteers to have a substantial amount of influence over the planning and implementation of the programs, which can prove a useful learning experience and resume booster for volunteers that are ready to step up to the challenge!