There are tens of thousands of food banks and pantries across the United States. Each one of them relies on volunteers to keep their doors open. There are a number of activities that these food banks need help with, and while the need will vary by each center, some of the more common tasks are below. In addition to what may be needed, anyone who wants to give back can find a food bank to apply at.
In addition, the volunteers come from many places. It can be one person coming into a center on their own or a group activity. There are often businesses as well as corporations in which employee’s volunteer as a group event. Maybe it is to increase teamwork, or to take advantage of a company policy. In either case, volunteering at a local food pantry is a great way to give back to the community.
Those that give back often say it is their chance to make a difference to those around them. They feel good about giving back, and maybe helping a child or low income senior get some food so they do not go hungry each night. Some people even volunteer so they can learn new skills.
Activities that volunteers are needed for
The bottom line is really almost anything! Without the time and dedication of millions of Americans, local food banks could not do the work of ending hunger. With, some of the more common activities will include the following.
- -People can sort donated groceries by date, type of food, repackage bulk food items, etc.
- -If the food bank has a soup kitchen then people are needed to prepare and cook meals, lunch bags, and more prepared meals.
- -Items will need to be stocked on the shelves as well as packed into boxes or grocery bags for clients.
- -Organize, and participate, in any special events that may be held at a food bank, such as Feeding America programs, food drives, money raising events, etc.
- -Titles of the volunteers include Retail Goods Sorting Volunteer, Delivery Ride-Along Drivers, Warehouse Volunteers, Distribution Assistants, and many others.
- -For those with experience, case management to help the family become self-sufficient is another program many food banks offer.
- -Office jobs, including mailings, data entry, and other administrative work.
Once again, it is important to note that every single food bank has their own policies, needs, hours, and types of operation. Generally, no two are alike. This applies to hours that volunteers can work too. In general, there are shifts that need to be filled throughout the week as well as on weekends.
Food bank volunteers also generally need to meet age requirements too. There is often a requirement that volunteers are age 18 or older, and anyone younger needs to be accompanied by an adult. As there are legal protections and restrictions in place that need to be met.
Feeding America, which is an organization that supports over 60,000 food pantries as well as soup kitchens across the nation, reports that millions of people volunteer each month. They do this year-round, with the month of April being a major period of it as it is national volunteer month. They had a study from a few years ago in which they estimate almost 2 million people volunteer (on average) each month.