Food Shop

Fill your heart and their plates through assisting with food preparation, serving and clean-up at this amazingly dedicated food shop, providing low cost, healthy meals to vulnerable locals in need.

The Food Shop program is NGO run, partnering with local people to provide heavily subsidized, low-cost meals. Its success relies on donations, local assistance and our participants, whose efforts prepare and serve on a daily basis. Anyone and everyone who is in need of support is more than welcome to come in and enjoy these nutritious meals.


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Program Description

“Fill your heart……and their plate!”

You will be contributing your efforts at The Smile Food Shop, where your task may include food preparation, serving and clean-up, as you bring smiles and affordable hot meals for all who need it.

Established in 2012, The Smile Food shop was opened to help people by providing low cost lunches for only 2000 VND per meal (about 10 cents). The shop is run by a NGO together with passionate locals and your efforts will be greatly appreciated as well.

In this program you will help to prepare lunches and serve these meals to a group of around 300-500 people (elderly, local workers, persons with disabilities, students and children) who come for low cost, good quality and well prepared meals each day!

Please be advised that the Food Shop program continues to function even when the NGO run facility is closed (including a month long closure around the Tet Holiday). During those periods, Food Shop participants will prepare food on-site at our accommodation kitchen and those free meals will be distributed at a local hospital to patients and local workers.

Your Role – General Information

On the other hand, this program is likely to be one of the most challenging, engaging and, at times, one of the most exhausting things you have ever done, where you loved every minute of it. Thus your main roles will be, but are not limited to:

  • Help and assist in Food preparations for Lunch.
  • Prepare Food Ingredients.
  • Assists in cooking meals.
  • Placing Food Items on Plates
  • Serve meals to the group of 300 – 500 local people.
  • Maintaining Cooking Equipment clean.
  • Maintaining kitchen areas clean and sanitized.

Meanwhile, remember that you are exploring places different from the corner of your home, thus, throughout your stay you are expected to adhere and follow all the stated rules and regulations set and to keep in mind the following considerations, thus, failure to comply may lead to your termination from the program. This is for however implemented and advised for your utmost safety while staying with us. Notably, you are expected to adhere to the following:

During the Program Activities:

  • Work at the placement for a minimum of four hours a day.
  • Be on time and always come to the food shop well prepared as you will have a long day of food preparation.
  • Wear hairnets or caps in order to dislodge hair in place so it doesn’t fall into food or equipment.
  • Use aprons as it serves as a barrier against hot splashes, hot foods and other kitchen dangers.
  • Bring yourself towels.
  • Be extra careful in using cooking equipment and utensils, especially sharp things such as knives, etc.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water right before you begin any recipe in order.
  • Always be responsible and attentive while cooking and adhere to safety precautions and measures.
  • There may be a change of time and schedules so please be patient and respect the advice of your local program coordinator.
  • Be respectful with the local staff, the local people, fellow participants,food shop staff and to the community in general at all times.
  • Actively partake in the day to day operations of the food shop.
  • Join other activities conducted by the food shop.
  • Work closely with your local  coordinator alongside food shop staff..
  • Under the influence of alcohol during your placement schedule is strictly prohibited.
  • Always bring Water bottled or containers.
  • Enjoy and make the most of your stay and make memorable learning experiences.

Note: Stated rules and regulations will be discussed further by the local staff or the Country Manager a day after your arrival.

Please note that this program is still running during the public holidays as we join in celebration with the local people. Additionally, from January 9 – 2023 until January 30th 2023, we will cook lunch for the homeless elders, who have no family, no kids to celebrate with them.We will also spend one day to join Tet Festival with them.

Add-on: +Learning

There is no +Learning add-on available for this program.

Aims & Objectives

Specifically, this project aims to:

  • Generate income so that the people of Ho Chi Minh can continue to be provided with hygienic, healthy food at a low cost;
  • Give you practical experience in the kitchen and an insight into food preparation; and
  • Assist the local staff with extra hands at the food shop.



  • Breakfast
  • Introduction meeting, House rules, Setting Expectations, Health and Safety Advice, handling of documents & Signing up of relevant documents.
  • Vietnam Do’s and Don’ts, Dress Codes,  Vietnam Culture Lessons
  • Project Meetings & Preparations with assigned Local Coordinators.
  • Tour around the campus and nearby areas around the city.
  • Lunch
  • Basic Vietnamese Language and Cooking lessons.
  • Games and other Recreational Activities at the Campus open ground.
  • Family Dinner at a Local Restaurant.

Tuesday to Friday

  • Breakfast
  • Depart for the food shop
  • Assist in the preparation of food, working in the kitchen, cleaning the area and serving food.
  • Lunch at the Food Shop
  • Head back to the accommodation
  • Half Day Break
  • Dinner

Note: This program is relocated during periods/holidays when the NGO facility is closed and meals prepared by participants are then distributed at a local hospital.

This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Starting Dates

During 2023

This program starts every week.

During 2024

This program starts every week.

Participant Criteria & Requirements

Standard Requirements

Minimum age:                18

Maximum age:                –

Minimum English level:        Basic

CRB required:                On Signup

Passport copy required:        No

Resume copy required:        No

Required qualification:        None

Additional Requirements

The following are further necessary in order for both the participants, local staff and everyones involved to have a meaningful, enjoyable and safe community program.

  • Genuine interests and passion in food preparations and desire to reduce hunger.
  • Have basic knowledge in cooking and food preparations.
  • This program is likely to be one of the most challenging, engaging and, at times, one of the most exhausting things you have ever done, a decent level of fitness and attention is required.
  • Older participants or over 65 years are required to have a medical clearance as proof of their physical fitness as they may perform various activities.
  • Participants below 18 years old need a signed parental consent as proof of involvement of their children for the program. If possible, accompaniment by an adult is highly advised.
  • High level of efficiency, accuracy and responsibility and can work under pressure and is a team player.
  • Excellent time management and self – organizing and a strong desire to take on new challenges and learn as much as possible.
  • Recommended to atleast have COVID – 19 Vaccination. You are advised to purchase travel and medical insurance prior to your arrival.
  • Have completed or recommended the following vaccines: Polio, Hepatitis A, Diphtheria/Tetanus, Typhoid, Malaria, Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, Cholera, Japanese Encephalitis. In case of Yellow Fever, a certificate of vaccination is required if you are arriving from an area with a risk of yellow fever transmission. The list of vaccinations is a suggestion aimed at protecting the participants. Please consult with your doctors to determine which ones are suitable for you before you arrive. For individuals coming from Africa, it is necessary to receive the yellow fever vaccination to enter Vietnam.

Additional Equipment

Personal belongings such as:

  • Bring comfortable working clothes ( with hairnets, aprons, etc.) and must follow the dress code policy.
  • An environmentally friendly sunscreen or lotion is also advised to protect you from the heat of the sun and please carry with you preventive agents, such as mosquito repellents, as well as other medicines for headaches and stomach aches.
  • Moreover, bring Medicines with you especially if you have to take specific medicines on a regular basis.
  • Refillable water bottles and hydration packs to stay hydrated throughout the day particularly during food preparations.

Dress Code:

  • Vietnam is a Conservative Country, please wear modest clothing covering knees and shoulders. Loose and long clothing is both respectful and tends to keep you cooler in hot climates.Cover up as much as possible in the spirit of the local culture to avoid embarrassment.
  • Your clothes must not be too short, too tight, or too revealing. Kindly make sure your shoulders and legs are covered.
  • It is completely fine to wear western clothes as long as they fit the local standards.
  • Be thoughtful of the graphics, symbols or text printed on your clothing and avoid wearing clothing styles that might be inappropriate especially when visiting churches, temples or schools during your spare time.