Volunteer with Northern Illinois Food Bank

Some Ways our Volunteers Help

  1. Food Sorting & Packing
    Inspect, sort, and package food that will be distributed to our hungry neighbors.
  2. Grocery Distribution
    Serve our neighbors directly at the Winnebago Community Market, My Pantry Express, and Mobile Markets.
  3. Skills-Based Opportunities
    Put your unique professional and general life skills to use and help us solve hunger! We have a variety of projects available. Click here to learn more
  4. Signature Events
    Assist in planning fundraising events, soliciting sponsorship or auction items, and providing day-of logistic support. If interested in helping in this way, please send an email to [email protected].
  5. Court Compelled Community Service
    A program for those who must serve mandated court-compelled service hours as ordered by a judge. Click here to learn more

Volunteer FAQ

You can sign up to volunteer directly by visiting volunteer-northernilfoodbank.org. If you visited our site in the past, you’ll notice the online calendar looks different. That’s because the Food Bank launched a new online registration system for volunteers effective November 1, 2022. Any questions, feel free to send an email to the Volunteer Team at [email protected] or call 630-443-6910 (PRESS 2).


A number of court-ordered service hour offenses may be completed by volunteering at the Food Bank once approved by the Court-Compelled Coordinator. All individuals must be at least 16 years old, a must first call and leave a message at 630-443-6910 ext. 192 or send an email to [email protected] to verify the offense is of an acceptable nature. For more details, visit our Court-Required Service page.

Yes, you will need to have a completed account before you can begin scheduling volunteer shifts. Volunteers with a valid email address in our system after January 1, 2018 were imported into the new system. Passwords did NOT carry over though, so volunteers will need to click “forgot password” under the log-in field the first time they attempt to log in. For assistance, email the Volunteer Team at [email protected].

Yes, of course! We look forward to having your workplaces, faith-based group, school, neighborhood, family and more volunteer with us soon! Team leaders looking to bring a group of more than 20 volunteers should complete the Team Volunteer Reservation Request. Groups less than 20 volunteers can sign up online today! For more info, visit our Team Volunteering page for detailed instructions on how to sign up a team.

Yes, all team members names and email addresses must be confirmed at least two weeks prior to your shift date. Any slots that are not confirmed in this time frame, will be released back to the public calendar. This change has been made to ensure we have enough volunteers for each shift for all of our opportunities. The food Bank relies on this support to complete projects on time and provide necessary food to our neighbors.

To manage a team, begin by navigating to the “My Teams” page by clicking the dropdown menu in the upper-right-hand corner (this is a circle with initials in it on a desktop or a “hamburger menu” box with lines on mobile). From there, team leaders can manage their group by either entering the names and email addresses of each team member OR by sharing the “Copy Join Link” found in the middle of the screen with those they’d like to invite to volunteer with their team. For complete instructions on how to manage a team of volunteers, please see our Team Volunteering page.

We welcome children ages 8 and older for all Food Sort & Pack shifts. For our Grocery Distribution shifts that involve interacting directly with our neighbors and often working outside around car traffic, volunteers must be at least 12 years old. For detailed instructions on how to register youth volunteers, please visit our Youth Volunteering page.

Yes! Any volunteer under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older. Children ages 8 and older may volunteer with families or in groups with adult chaperones. Chaperone ratios are 1:4 for ages 8-13 and 1:10 for ages 14-17. For more information on how to register youth volunteers, please visit our Youth Volunteering page.

Yes, we recommend dressing comfortably and in layers depending on the season of year. Additionally, volunteers working at our Centers and outdoor distributions must wear fully enclosed shoes. Individuals wearing opened-toe shoes such as sandals, flip flops, soccer slides, Crocs, Keens, slippers, as well as, high heeled shoes are not allowed while volunteering. Medical boots are also a safety concern and not allowed. Long shorts or pants and t-shirts or sweatshirts are recommended.

The majority of our volunteer opportunities are sorting, inspecting and repacking food for our hungry neighbors. These tasks require some level of physical activity– from standing on concrete floors for several hours at a time to occasionally lifting at least 10 pounds.

Yes. Our projects are designed for specific time periods so we ask that volunteers commit to the entire shift. For that reason, it is also important you arrive on time. We understand that schedules change, so if you are unable to commit to the full shift, please consider rescheduling for another shift that works better with your schedule.

Volunteers can walk up to any computer kiosk available to them when they arrive. At some of our opportunities, you may see a staff member or volunteer leader with a tablet to assist you in checking in to your shift. In this case, just let them know you are ready to volunteer and they will help you out.

You Make an Impact

$1.2 million

granted to aid network Members serving our Neighbors

2 million meals

provided through 2,400 SNAP (food stamps) applications

18 million meals

distributed through Mobile Markets and pop-ups

Helping Hands

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Your financial gift supports food distributions and feeding opportunities across 13 counties within Northern Illinois. Every $1 donated can provide $8 worth of groceries for a neighbor in need.