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Managing Music Festival Volunteer Catering.

Andy Robertson

Almost all festivals rely on volunteers to make their events happen every year and keeping them well watered and fed during an event is an essential part of managing them. The provision of regular meals is expected by volunteers, and this can be a major headache for organisers to ensure there are sufficient quantities of the right food available at the right time.

Depending on the size of a music festival it could use anything between 20 and 200 volunteers or more and managing the catering requirements for hundreds of volunteers over several days required good logistics planning. What are the key aspects that festival organisers should consider when planning their volunteer catering?

A well-planned music festival will include estimates for the number of volunteers that will be required for the event. The creation of volunteer shifts and duties will help identify the number of people required and most festival organisers operate campaigns throughout the year to recruit volunteers for their next event. Most organisers accept more applications than the number required to account for the inevitable dropouts. During the confirmation process for each volunteer organisers need to establish availability, preferences for duties and relevant experience like first aid. This process can also help establish the number of meals required along with any dietary requests and timing.

Catering Suppliers.
With a finalised plan organisers can start looking for potential external catering suppliers where key requirements will include capacity capability, quality assurances and meeting the designated budget. Other considerations can include compliance with prevailing health and safety requirements, festival catering experience, the variety of menus offered and the ability to cater for different dietary requirements. As with any potential supplier they should be a good fit with the festival's ethos and embrace sustainability values and waste management.

Meal Options and Tickets.
The selected catering supplier should offer a variety of menu options and festival organisers should endeavour to collect dietary requirements from their confirmed volunteers in good time to allow for meal planning. Whilst some caters may be able to offer hot meals the festival environment may be more suited to cold meals and sandwiches for example. After volunteers have been confirmed for their shifts and duties with any meal requirements logged organisers should issue meal tickets. Not many organisers still use physical meal vouchers although they still exist at smaller events, most have moved over to some form of electronic management. This can use QR codes for example which contain allocated meals issued for every volunteer. The QR coded meal tickets are scanned by the caterers which deducts the meal provided from their specific allocation.

When a festival uses hundreds of volunteers it is not unusual to encounter a small number of issues, this makes it essential for organisers to obtain feedback from their volunteers on the performance of the catering suppliers. This data can be used for future events to ensure that the volunteer catering process is continuously improved.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics with a dedicated volunteer module that includes catering management. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Image by
Antoni Shkraba via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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