“Volunteers aren’t paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” – Sherry Anderson
Last year, groups and individuals donated more than 155,000 hours of their time to Northern Illinois Food Bank to ensure that our neighbors who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from don’t have to fight against hunger alone. Not only do our volunteers’ hours make a difference to our hungry neighbors, but they have a tremendous impact behind the scenes at the Food Bank as well – equating to an additional 74 full-time Food Bank employees on staff. That’s more than half the size of our current staff!
Here at the Food Bank, we think it’s important to remind everyone just how vital volunteers are to achieving our mission to end hunger in Northern Illinois. Without them, the 62.5 million meals we distributed last year wouldn’t have made it to 3.7 million neighbors in need. When we fill our hungry neighbor’s plates, we also fill their hearts with hope. And thanks to our volunteers, these individuals and families don’t have to make as many tough choices between paying for food or other expenses like living costs or medical bills.
National Volunteer Week
This April 23-29, we celebrate National Volunteer Week in honor of those who serve to build stronger communities. This special week was established in a presidential proclamation signed by Richard Nixon in 1974. Since then, a new National Volunteer Week proclamation has been made by the President every year as an opportunity to recognize and thank volunteers who donate their time, skills, voice, and support to missions they care about in their community.
Northern Illinois Food Bank welcomes our friends and family in the community to join us in serving our hungry neighbors. Whether you want to express thanks for what you’ve been given or learn about the help that our neighbors need, we encourage you to get involved – there’s always room for you in our Food Bank family!
Ways to Volunteer at a Glance
No matter your age, how much time you have to give, or where your interests lie, we have a variety of volunteer opportunities to choose from designed to fit your needs. From joining our VolunTeens program or sorting and packing food for an afternoon, what you do matters! Here’s a quick look at some of the many ways you can get involved and help feed our hungry neighbors:
Food Sorting & Packing
From fresh produce to frozen meat, much of the donated food Northern Illinois Food Bank receives needs to be inspected, sorted, and packaged according to food safety standards before being distributed to our hungry neighbors. Learn more.Please note: volunteers in the warehouse must be 8 years or older.
Help the Food Bank and/or food pantries in your community by becoming a Skills-Based Volunteer! We have a variety of projects available at multiple locations that will utilize your personal and professional skills and strengths. Projects can be anything ranging from tending a garden to calling individuals who need help applying for SNAP benefits. Learn more.
VolunTeens are trained to act as Volunteer Supervisors in our warehouse, where they lead projects and manage volunteers on the warehouse floor. VolunTeens have the opportunity to volunteer in other areas such as Nutrition Education, Monitoring, and Mobile Pantries. Learn more.
Signature Events & Event Planning Committees
Special event volunteers assist in soliciting sponsorship or auction items and providing pre-event and day-of event support. Our annual events include the Foodie 5K races, A Taste That Matters culinary event, Hunger Scramble golf outing, Stars and Cars, and Cup of Hope: A Garden Tea to Solve Hunger. Learn more.
Northern Illinois Food Bank is currently recruiting for our next rotation of AmeriCorps VISTAs who will assist with communications, community gardens, senior hunger, agency capacity building, community engagement and volunteering. Learn more and view current openings.
Designed to help participants understand the realities faced by our hungry neighbors by assuming the roles of families and individuals facing poverty and the unique and difficult choices they make every day. The two-hour exercise utilizes volunteers who play various roles throughout the simulation to create a realistic experience. Learn more.
Volunteers assist with food recovery at the end of local food industry conventions and shows a couple times per year to help pack the food that exhibitors have donated into boxes and load it into a Food Bank truck to be brought back to our centers for processing. Learn more.
Mobile Pantry volunteers assist in distributing food to our hungry neighbors at these “traveling food pantries” that deliver a variety of meat, fresh produce, shelf-stable foods, and non-food household items directly to communities where the need for food surpasses the capacity of existing food pantry resources. Learn more.
During the summer and fall months, the Food Bank benefits from the generosity of local farmers who donate an abundance of their leftover crops. Volunteers are needed to help harvest corn, squash, and more so it can be brought to the Food Bank for packing and distribution. Learn more.