Frequently Asked Volunteer Questions
Thank you for your desire to join us in our efforts to fight hunger. The St. Louis Area Foodbank relies on over 22,000 volunteers every year in various capacities. Individual volunteers and volunteer groups lend support to our day-to-day operations as well as helping to staff special events and other opportunities. We are excited for you to join us!
A: In keeping with social-distancing guidelines, the number of volunteers we can accept during a shift, our hours, and the number of shifts we can offer in our Volunteer Center have all changed. We are able to host four shifts per day Monday – Friday and two shifts on Saturdays. Each shift will have two groups of 10 volunteers. The two groups of 10 will be separated in the Volunteer Center to allow for social distancing.
- Please sign up online before arriving to volunteer so we can plan and adhere to social-distancing protocols.
- All volunteer shifts are subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions and evolving CDC guidance.
- Unfortunately, all evening warehouse volunteer shifts are suspended until further notice.
A: As a food safety institution, we have always been keenly focused on health and safety. In specific response to COVID-19, we have implemented the following additional safeguards to make this experience as safe as possible for you, our staff, and those we serve. Please read and follow them for the benefit of everyone.
- If you are feeling ill, have traveled in the past 14 days, work in the healthcare field (hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, urgent care, etc.) or have possibly been exposed to someone with the Coronavirus, (regardless of how you feel) we ask you to postpone your volunteer registration. Please do not come in to volunteer if you have tested positive for COVID-19, whether you are exhibiting symptoms or not; if you are currently sick; or if you have been exposed to someone who is sick, has tested positive for COVID-19, or is self-quarantining. If you have not been able to social distance and wear a mask in public during the past 14 days, please do not come in to volunteer. If you have had COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for COVID, you can return to volunteering if all of the following are true:
o It has been 14 days since your symptoms first appeared
o In the past 14 days, you have not had a fever and have not had to take fever-reducing medication
o In the past 14 days, you have not experienced respiratory symptoms like cough or shortness of breath
- All volunteers (and staff) are required to wear a face mask when in the St. Louis Area Foodbank Volunteer Center or at a Mobile Food Pantry site. We will provide masks and gloves if volunteers do not have their own.
- We are cleaning high touch areas in the building multiple times a day.
- All volunteers in the building must wash their hands before beginning and at the conclusion of their shift.
- We are also providing hand sanitizer and gloves.
While we greatly appreciate your interest in volunteering, the safety of our volunteers, staff and clients is of paramount importance to us. We encourage you to consider your own health and safety when deciding whether or not to volunteer during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A: We currently require all volunteers to wear face masks that cover the mouth and nose, and we will supply them to volunteers who do not have their own.
A: Yes! If you are unable to find an open volunteer spot in our Volunteer Center, please consider assisting with Mobile Markets or reaching out to one of our partner agencies. To find network partners near you, enter your zip code on our FIND FOOD page to see a list of pantries and soup kitchens in your area. Please call them and let them know you are interested in volunteering.
Another option to consider is hosting a traditional or virtual food drive (VFD). Funds raised through a VFD are flexible – the Foodbank can put your dollars toward the area of greatest need, which helps us prepare for and respond to evolving situations like COVID-19. Learn more about food drives HERE.
A: We accept volunteers as young as 3 years old. We do require one adult volunteer to accompany each group of five to 10 children under the age of 16. We do not have childcare services available at the Foodbank.
A: Each person that comes to volunteer must create an account and register for shifts under their own name. Adults (18 years of age or older) who plan to volunteer with minors should sign up for a shift that has enough open slots to include the minor(s). Once registration is complete, the registered adult should contact Mary Cooper (email@example.com or 314-292-6262) to change their reservation to include minors.
A: Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate walk-in volunteers. All Foodbank volunteer shifts have a maximum capacity due to space and resource limitations. It is our goal to provide the best possible experience for each of our volunteers, so it is important for us to know in advance when you are coming in order to provide the supplies and supervision to ensure the best experience possible. You may call Mary Cooper on the day you may be available to check for cancelations. 314- 292-6262.
A: Yes! We would love your family, school, or youth group to join us. Volunteering is a great way to teach children about community service while spending some quality time with them. We allow kids ages 3 and up in our Volunteer Center as long as they are accompanied by an adult (18 or over). Those 16 and over are welcome to volunteer on their own. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have postponed large group activities. We look forward to resuming group activities as soon as it is safe for everyone.
A: An adult must accompany volunteers under 16 years old. All adult chaperones in your group will be asked to sign in upon arrival, and to accept responsibility for each youth present.
A: Please contact our volunteer coordinator Mary Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-292-6262 as soon as possible (preferably at least a week in advance), so we can invite other volunteers to take your place.
A: If you think you may need to arrive late or leave early, please consider rescheduling for a shift that you can fully attend. During Covid-19, our shifts are shorter and we have fewer volunteers present at one time, so it’s more important than ever that we can count on volunteers for the entire duration of a shift. When volunteers arrive late, leave early, or do not attend, it can cause interruptions in the flow of the shift and delay completion of the scheduled project.
You should arrive five to 10 minutes before your scheduled shift time to check in and to fill out our volunteer waiver and a Covid-19 questionnaire. Be ready to participate in important directions for the day and any specific training regarding the project you will be working on.
A: You can just bring it with you! We accept food donations during our regular business hours, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
A: We suggest that you do not bring any valuables to your volunteer shift. There is a coat rack provided, but we do not have lockers to secure belongings. Please remember, the Foodbank is not responsible for lost or stolen items while you are volunteering. The Foodbank will supply all tools needed to complete projects. Please do not bring in any personal tools or items. Please wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing that will not limit your mobility during your shift. Common attire is jeans and a tee shirt. Please refrain from wearing clothing with offensive language.
If you’re wearing open-toed shoes, clothing that may offend others, or that limits your ability to safely perform volunteer activities, the Foodbank’s Volunteer Center staff may reassign you to another volunteer position or may ask you to return another time.
In keeping with CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our drinking fountains are closed. However, volunteers will have access to a water-bottle refill station, coffee, and vending machines.
A: We fully respect your privacy, and the Foodbank will never sell or share your personal information for any reason. We collect only required information and records for individuals (such as a volunteer agreement or media release). For this reason, each volunteer must create their own account in our volunteer management system prior to serving with the Foodbank. We require contact information so we can notify you if there are changes in scheduled shifts, or to reach someone in the case of an emergency.
A: The Volunteer Center is climate controlled. However, with the doors open to the warehouse, some of our volunteers in every shift may be working in an area of the Volunteer Center that is not climate controlled, and in the summer, it can get quite warm. So please come dressed for your comfort with light clothing for summer and warmer clothes in winter.
Mobile Food Pantry shifts take place outdoors, so please come prepared with the appropriate attire for the weather, plenty of water, and no open-toed shoes.
A: If you have food allergies, please communicate that with our staff before your shift date so we can discuss what accommodations may be possible. If you have severe or life-threatening food allergies, we cannot guarantee or prevent exposure so we encourage you to support the Foodbank in a way that doesn’t compromise your safety.
A: Yes, the Foodbank features a lactation room for guests and volunteers who need a private place to express milk. Please see a Volunteer Center staff member for access to the room.
A: You can access an official report on any Volunteer Center event or Mobile Pantry event through your VolunteerHub account. In the drop-down menu of your account, select “view hours.” On that page select the orange “view hour history button”, select the date range you’d like to see and select “update” to see a printable report of your hours.
If you need something signed, you will need to bring in your school or work form, or paperwork, which we will be happy to sign at the end of your shift. If you volunteer at a Mobile Pantry, you must get your paperwork signed while you are present at the shift. We are not able to confirm service hours completed at a Mobile Pantry after the fact.
A. No, the Foodbank does not provide hours for court ordered Community Service.
A: During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are not conducting any non-essential volunteer activities onsite, including tours, meals, or room rentals. We hope to resume this once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Thank you for your understanding!
A: Photos are encouraged during service shifts, but remember to be respectful of your shift leader and fellow volunteers. We encourage volunteers to share photos online. Please tag us @stlfoodbank and use #stlfoodbank
A: Absolutely! We encourage volunteers to show their team spirit.
A: Our projects are designed for specific time periods, so we ask that volunteers commit to the entire shift. For that reason, it’s also very important that you arrive on time!
A: Our volunteer projects can accommodate groups of various sizes and can provide team-building opportunities. Please reach out to Mary Cooper email@example.com for group activities. We do need each individual to pre-register.
A: Please contact our volunteer coordinator Mary Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org 314-292-6262 as soon as possible to see if there is room available.
A: We are able to accommodate special needs, but we evaluate our ability to accommodate on a situation-by-situation basis. Please call Mary Cooper to discuss your specific needs. 314-292-6262 email@example.com.
A: There are lots of restaurants in the Foodbank’s vicinity. We’re located at 70 Corporate Woods Drive, in Bridgeton, MO. We encourage you to search nearby to find something that fits your tastes.
- Volunteer Center – Volunteers sign up for a 3-hour shift at the St. Louis Area Foodbank and serve as part of a volunteer crew focused on packing meal boxes, sorting donated products, repacking produce for distribution, and other tasks directly related to preparing food for distribution.
- Mobile Distributions (Food Fairs, Block Parties etc.) – Volunteers serve OFF SITE in the community and help distribute food to our neighbors in need. Distributions occur multiple times a month and happen rain or shine.
- Data Entry – Volunteers help us gather, input and use data to serve our clients (i.e. SNAP applications) and to better inform our strategic decisions.
- Special Events Support – Volunteers fill a variety of roles when providing special event support and help to ensure that brand-awareness events, cause-marketing opportunities and annual fundraisers (i.e. “Rock Out Hunger”) are successful and effective.
It seems like “programs” and “philanthropy” are there to specify the department that the person would be volunteering with, but I’m making that assumption because I’m familiar with your organizational structure. It’s a little confusing for me, so I think it’s probably more confusing for most. If that information needs to stay, it should be reworked. Let me know.
- Corporate Events – If you are interested in planning a project or activity at your company or location, please contact Derek May, Director of Philanthropy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-292-5398. If you would like to plan a food drive, please contact Will Beshore at 314-227-3734 for traditional food drives; for virtual food drives contact Abby Brandon at 314-292-6262.
- Lead Volunteer – “Lead volunteers” help coach, train, support and lead new volunteers. They work directly with staff members to ensure safety, outcomes, and client dignity are top of mind at all times. These opportunities are ideal for individuals with flexible schedules who are interested in volunteering more regularly.
We are always adding new roles and will need volunteers in the future who have a passion and expertise in:
- Data collection and surveying
- Advocacy and legislation
- Talent/skills based volunteer opportunities
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is always looking for students who are currently enrolled or recently graduated from a college or university and are interested in learning more about the Foodbank through an internship. Foodbank internships are flexible, and interns are invited to tailor their experience to fit their interests and program requirements by working directly with Foodbank staff.