Frequently Asked Questions - Volunteering

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the biggest changes to know about volunteering with the Food Bank during the COVID-19 pandemic?

ASeveral important changes have been put in place:

  • All volunteers must sign up online before arriving. This allows us to carefully plan for a certain number of volunteers and adhere to social distancing protocols.
  • We are now publishing one month of volunteer opportunities at a time. COVID-19 has limited our ability to commit to a long-term calendar, and it has become clear that we will be operating a little differently for the foreseeable future with more frequent changes to the calendar. We are taking this action in an effort to reduce the number of cancellations and changes we have to make moving forward.  
  • We have reprioritized our volunteer needs for the time being, so all evening warehouse volunteer shifts and all garden shifts are cancelled until further notice.
  • Please read below about important changes to our age requirements for volunteers.

Q: Why can’t I see events past the end of the month?

A: Right now we’re only publishing one month of volunteer events on our calendar at a time. COVID-19 has limited our ability to commit to a long-term calendar, and it has become clear that we will be operating a little differently for the foreseeable future with more frequent cancellations and changes to the calendar. Ultimately we believe this method of managing the calendar will provide a better experience for you as our volunteers, but we know it’s an adjustment right now!

Q: What are you doing to keep volunteers safe?

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 these safeguards to make this experience as safe as possible. Please read and follow them for the good of everyone.

  • If you are feeling ill or have possibly been exposed to a communicable disease (regardless of how you feel) we ask you to cancel your volunteer registration. In the­­­­ case of COVID-19 (coronavirus), please do not come in to volunteer if you have tested positive for COVID-19 whether you are exhibiting symptoms or not, are currently sick, have been exposed to someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 or someone who 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:
    • It has been 10 days since your symptoms first appeared
    • In the past 3 days (72 hours), you have not had a fever and have not had to take fever-reducing medication
    • In the past 3 days (72 hours), you have not experienced respiratory symptoms like cough or shortness of breath
  • All volunteers (and staff) are required to wear a cloth face covering at all times when in the Central Texas Food Bank building or at a Mobile Food Pantry site. Volunteers must provide their own face covering and can find helpful information and resources on the CDC website.
  • We have implemented touchless volunteer check in and social distancing.
  • We are cleaning high touch areas in the building multiple times a day.
  • All volunteers in the building must wash their hands before beginning their shift.
  • We are 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 volunteering is a good fit for you at this time.

Q: Is the Food Bank providing protective equipment?

A: We are requiring cloth face masks be worn by every volunteer, but ask that volunteers provide their own. We do provide gloves.

Q: I want to help but all the shifts look full! Is there something else I can do?

A: Yes! If you are unable to find an open volunteer spot on our scheduling website, please consider reaching out to one of our partner agencies. You can learn more about that here. Another option is to consider doing a virtual food drive (VFD) to help raise money online. Funds raised through a VFD are flexible – the Food Bank can put your dollars toward the area of greatest need, which helps us prepare for and respond to evolving situations like COVID-19.

Q: What’s the age requirement to volunteer?

A: You must be 18 years or older to volunteer at a Mobile Food Pantry. You must be 8 years or older to volunteer in the Warehouse, and you must be 15 years or older to volunteer in the Kitchen with us. All volunteers under 18 years of age require an adult chaperone who is over 21 years or older. Youth under age 8 are unable to volunteer with us and or enter our volunteer workspaces for safety reasons. We do not offer child care services during volunteer shifts.

Also, we are not able to schedule or host groups of youth volunteers right now. Individual youth volunteers are still welcome to sign up with a parent or guardian age 21+ in the warehouse-food sorting or kitchen shifts. In the warehouse, we are working with a limited number of volunteer spots, and due to necessary social distancing protocols, many of our volunteer jobs must be covered by a single individual working independently. Larger youth groups are unfortunately not workable in this current context. We are sincerely looking forward to the time when we can welcome our youth volunteer groups back to serve.

Q: How do I register my child to come volunteer with me? My children do not have their own phone number and/or email address. Can they use mine as their adult chaperone?

A: Each person that comes to volunteer has to create an account and register for shifts under their own name, including minors. To create your child’s account, sign out of your own first. If your child does not have his/her own phone number and/or email address, adult chaperones/parents/guardians may use their own contact information to create an account for each child. Once the account is created, you can sign them up for the shift.

Q: I need to arrive late or leave early, is that a problem?

A: If you think you may need to arrive late or leave early, please find a different shift that you can fully attend.  It is more important than ever that you stay for the entire duration of your shift. When volunteers arrive late, exit early, or do not attend, we are left struggling to feed hungry people.

You should arrive 5-10 minutes before your scheduled shift time to check-in and be ready to participate in important training. Volunteers who arrive after their scheduled shift start time may not be permitted to join the volunteer shift. Specifically, warehouse volunteers who arrive more than 30 minutes after the shift begins will have missed important training and will be asked to come back another day.

Q: I would like to donate food before my volunteer shift. Who should I contact about food donations?

A: We accept contactless food donations during our regular business hours, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. All food donations are received in the back of our building (look for the “Delivery Entrance” sign off of Burleson) via a donation bin on Dock 8. Please plan to drop off donations in that location before or after your shift, as it is not accessible once you are in the building.

Q: Where can I put my personal belongings while I volunteer?

A: Each program area has a designated space for you to store your personal belongings for your shift. Please remember, the Food Bank is not responsible for lost or stolen items while you are serving with us. Volunteers do not need to bring any tools or personal items. Please make sure you wear closed-toe shoes and appropriate clothing for your shift. If you need a water bottle, please bring your own.

Q: Why do you need my personal information for the registration process?

A: We fully respect your privacy, and the Food Bank will never sell or share your personal information for any reason. We collect only required information and records on each individual (such as a volunteer agreement and media release).  For this reason, each volunteer must create their own account prior to serving with the Food Bank.

Q: Is the Warehouse climate-controlled?

A: Part of our warehouse is climate controlled. However, half of the volunteers in every shift will be working in an area of the warehouse that is not climate controlled, and in the summer it can get quite warm. So please come dressed for your comfort with breathable clothing.

Kitchen shifts may take place in a cooler/freezer area. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own warm jackets. Garden and Mobile Food Pantry shifts take place outdoors, so please come prepared with the appropriate attire for the weather.

Q: I’m allergic to certain foods. Will that impact my volunteer duties?

A: If you have food allergies, please communicate that with our staff before your shift date so that we may discuss what accommodations may be possible. If you have severe or life-threatening food allergies, we cannot guarantee or prevent exposure and encourage you to reconsider joining any volunteer shift with us.

Q: Is there a private lactation room at the Food Bank?

A: Yes, the Food Bank features a lactation room for guests and volunteers needing a private place to express milk. The room features a dedicated refrigerator, sink with soap and paper towels, cleaning supplies, a comfortable chair and foot rest. Please see a Volunteer Engagement staff member for access to the room.

Q: I need proof or verification of my hours at the end of my shift. Will I receive a verification letter?

A: The Food Bank does not provide verification documents for service time. If you need something signed, you must bring your own 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.

Additionally, you can access an official report on any warehouse, garden, or kitchen hours (not Mobile Pantry) 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 are seeking proof of your hours for court-mandated community service restitution, please see our guidelines for community service here.

Q: Is there a room my group can use for lunch purposes? Or can my group schedule a tour before/after the volunteer shift?

A: Until further notice, we are not conducting any non-essential volunteer activities onsite, including tours, meals, or room rentals. Thank you for your understanding.

Q: Can we take photos while volunteering?

A: Photos are encouraged during service shifts, while being respectful of your shift leader and fellow volunteers. We encourage volunteers to share photos online. Please tag us!

Q: Are we allowed to wear company shirts?

A: Absolutely! We encourage volunteers to show their team spirit.