Volunteering at a food bank can be a deeply rewarding experience for people of all ages. In addition to the satisfaction of providing much-needed assistance to community members experiencing hunger, giving back at your local food bank can be a great way to meet new friends, stay active, and enrich your community. Food banks, including Food Bank of the Rockies, are always looking for new volunteers, and there are plenty of ways to get involved. Here’s how you can start volunteering at a food bank near you!
Where can I find a local food bank to volunteer at?
If you live in the metro Denver area, northern Colorado, or on the Western Slope, consider volunteering with Food Bank of the Rockies! Food Bank of the Rockies is the largest hunger-relief organization in the Rocky Mountain region and helps provide enough food for upwards of 180,000 meals every day to community members in need. With a distribution center in Denver and another in Grand Junction, we have plenty of opportunities for any interested volunteers.
If you live in Wyoming, consider volunteering with Food Bank of Wyoming, Food Bank of the Rockies’ Casper-based distribution center. Whether you’re near Casper and want to help out in our distribution center or you live elsewhere across Wyoming, Food Bank of Wyoming’s mobile pantries and other programs are always looking for volunteers.
If you don’t live in Colorado or Wyoming, don’t worry — the Feeding America network of food banks operates nationwide. Find one near you here.
How do I sign up to volunteer at a food bank?
Most food banks will require you to fill out a volunteer application that provides them with your contact information and availability for volunteer shifts and some will ask additional questions about your familiarity with the work you may be asked to do during your shift. Some food banks have different applications for groups versus individual volunteers so make sure you’re filling out the right form!
Are there any age or physical ability requirements to volunteer at a food bank?
At Food Bank of the Rockies, we take volunteers ages 10 and older with adult supervision; individuals 16 years of age and older can volunteer by themselves. Many other food banks have similar rules; check with your local food bank for more information.
What kind of work can I expect to do as a food bank volunteer?
- Sorting and packing food: the essential function of every food bank. This could include picking items from food bank distribution center shelves; checking food for quality, expiration dates, and damage; sorting food items into categories; and packing food items into boxes and pallets.
- Loading packed boxes of food onto pallets and into Hunger Relief Partners’ delivery vehicles.
- Assisting with distribution of food items to community members at mobile pantries, a distribution center, or other locations.
- Delivering meals, food boxes, and other aid items directly to community members in need.
- Harvesting and gleaning usable produce from local farms and community gardens.
- Helping prepare and package meals in the kitchen.
How should a food bank volunteer dress for their shift?
You will likely be on your feet for most of your shift, so comfortable footwear is a must. Closed-toe and closed-heel footwear that offers your feet a bit of protection is ideal and often required.
Wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Some food bank distribution centers or off-site distributions are not temperature-controlled, so be prepared to dress appropriately for the season.
Can I volunteer at a food bank remotely?
One great way to assist your local food bank remotely is to host a virtual food drive! Unlike a traditional food drive in which you’d collect canned food items from your family and friends, during a virtual food drive, you’ll collect funds for donation to your local food bank.
Virtual food drives are a great way to help out. At Food Bank of the Rockies, we are able to transform every $1 generated from community-driven virtual fundraisers to help distribute enough food for 3 nourishing meals thanks to our multitude of partnerships, robust purchasing power, and bulk pricing.