When it comes to serving your community, there are few more immediate or impactful ways to do so than as a food pantry volunteer at one of Food Bank of the Rockies’ 70-plus Mobile Food Pantry locations.
“Mobile Pantries are unique among Food Bank of the Rockies’ programs in that you’re directly distributing to the clients; you actually get to see the follow through of your work,” says Kate Budd, Mobile Pantry Representative at the food bank. “To see clients actually receive the product can be a really powerful experience.”
If you’ve volunteered with us at one of our main distribution sites, or if you’re new to volunteering with Food Bank of the Rockies (or new to volunteering in general), you might be wondering what it looks like to work a shift at a Mobile Pantry. To help answer your questions and give you an insight into the experience, we asked Kate to walk us through a typical day for a Mobile Food Pantry volunteer.
Simple Volunteer Sign-Up Experience
We want every step of volunteering to be as easy and enjoyable as possible, and we’ve designed our registration process with that in mind.
Step one: Create an account. We’ll gather some basic information from you, ask you to come up with a username and password, then you’re in! Please note that while we gladly welcome volunteers ages eight and up to join us at Mobile Pantry sites, individuals ages 13 and younger will need to be accompanied by an adult, and all volunteers ages 17 and younger will need to provide a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
Step two: Choose where and when you’d like to volunteer on our volunteer calendar. Once you find the day and site that works best for you, click on the day, check to make sure volunteer slots are still available, and sign up. It’s that simple!
You’ve Signed Up—Now What?
After you sign up for your shift, you will get a confirmation email from us with all the information you’ll need to prepare for the upcoming experience. In addition to the basics (address, time, date), the email will also contain several helpful details, such as:
- All Mobile Food Pantry Volunteer Opportunities take place outdoors; please dress for the weather accordingly
- We will contact you if the distribution is cancelled for any reason; if you do not hear from us, the distribution is happening
- Restroom facilities may not be available; please plan ahead
- Water bottles are often provided, but it’s best to bring your own bottle
- All registered food pantry volunteers are expected to stay for the entire shift (approximately 3.5 hours)
Other good-to-know information:
- Wear closed-toe shoes
- Arrive on time
- Plentiful parking is available at all sites
- Ideally, we seek to have ~12 volunteers at each Mobile Food Pantry distribution site. (If you notice that there are still slots available when you register, consider inviting a few friends to join you! The more volunteers, the more pleasant experience for you and our clients.)
- We’ll also send you a reminder email the day before your scheduled shift
Ultimately, it is our desire that every food pantry volunteer has an enjoyable and rewarding experience, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Day Of: Everything You Need to Know
When the day arrives for your volunteer shift, plan on arriving on time and on being prepared for the next 3.5 hours. (Remember, not all sites have restrooms available.)
The first thing everyone needs to do upon arrival is check in with the site coordinator. It is of the utmost importance to sign in, so please do so right away.
Once you’re signed in, you’ll have the option to choose between several different tasks: intake (aka signing clients in as they arrive—if you’re bilingual, please consider volunteering in this role!), building boxes (due to current COVID-19 restrictions, boxes are currently being pre-packed for clients), breaking down pallets, and loading boxes into the trunks of clients’ cars. The various roles allow you to choose your best fit depending on how much you’d like to interact with clients; we invite you to do whatever feels best to you.
Your site coordinator is your go-to source of information for whichever Mobile Food Pantry you opt to volunteer at, so don’t be shy about asking them any and all questions. Once all the clients have received their box of food, all that’s left is helping clean up.
Our food pantry volunteers mean the world to us, and we literally cannot do what we do without you. Thank you so much for partnering with us as a volunteer; we appreciate you and look forward to serving alongside you as together we ignite the power of community to nourish people facing hunger.