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.
  4. Signature Events
    Assist in planning fundraising events, soliciting sponsorship or auction items, and providing day-of logistic support.
  5. Court Compelled Community Service
    A program for those who must serve mandated court-compelled service hours as ordered by a judge.

Volunteer FAQ

As you can imagine, November and December are two of the most requested months in which volunteers seek opportunities to help. Signing up for these busy months as early as possible, sometimes up to two months in advance, is the best way to find the right date, time and location to accommodate your Team. Keep in mind that the public calendar is always changing as volunteers cancel from time to time so check back often to see if there is a shift that will work for you or your Team. If you don’t see a date that will work, consider choosing a date in the New Year as the Food Bank relies on volunteers to support shifts all year long.

Visit www.SolveHungerToday.org/Volunteer to learn how to sign up as an individual or team to volunteer at any of our four Centers of offsite opportunities. Any questions, feel free to send an email to the Volunteer Team at [email protected] or call 630-443-6910 (PRESS 2).

Yes! The Food Bank launched a new online registration system for volunteers effective November 1, 2022. Any volunteer with a valid email address in our system that volunteer on or after January 1, 2018 was 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].

Our current system has worked but it is time for more flexibility and ease for YOU the volunteer to sign up for shifts on your own and schedule shifts for your team to join you.

Whether you use your computer, tablet or phone, you have the ability to see current volunteer opportunities and schedule the date and time that is best for you.

After you have created an account and logged in, you can “fan” programs you like which will allow us to send you specific opportunities that are of interest to you. We are here to help you with any questions you have about our new system. Please ask a member of the Volunteer Team.

Yes, of course! We look forward to having your workplace, faith-based group, school, neighborhood, family and more volunteer with us soon! Team leaders looking to bring a group of 15 or more should contact the Volunteer Team directly for assistance. Groups less than 15 volunteers can sign up online today! Visit our website today to get started.

Yes, we have updated our registration policy for volunteer teams in order to best support efforts to provide food to our neighbors who need it the most.  It is not guaranteed that your slots will remain available if names and email addresses for each volunteer are not submitted 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.

There is no longer a spreadsheet for Team Leaders to submit with the names and email addresses of their volunteers. Instead, Team Leaders must manage their group by either updating and entering the names and email addresses of each team member OR by sharing a link from their group shift registration with those in their team they’d like to invite to volunteer.

Yes, teams of volunteers are welcome (and encouraged) to volunteer with us. Our volunteer projects can accommodate teams of various sizes and are perfect team-building opportunities. Teams of 15 or more volunteers are asked to contact the Food Bank directly by sending an email to [email protected]. To ensure we are able to accommodate your team size, we recommend teams contact our Volunteer Team at least one month in advance of their proposed team outing.

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.

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.

Volunteers must arrive on time in order to participate in pre-shift safety and orientation. We cannot accept volunteers later than 30 minutes. It can be difficult to “jump in” to a project when the other volunteers who are working it already have their task and know what to do. If you anticipate being late, please let us know and we will be happy to reschedule you.

Volunteers must participate for the entire duration of the shift they signed up to help with. Each volunteer working is an essential part of completing the task assigned for that specific shift. Leaving early causes a disruption for the project needing to be completed and for the other volunteers. We understand that schedules change, so if you have to leave early for a shift you signed up for, please consider rescheduling or talk to a Food Bank team member as soon as you arrive to check in.

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. If you are going to be later than 30 minutes or something comes up and need to leave early, our Volunteer Coordinators would be happy to assist you in rescheduling your volunteer shift, if necessary.

Yes, we recommend dressing comfortably and in layers depending on the season of year. Additionally, volunteers working in our warehouse must WEAR CLOSED-TOE SHOES on the day of your shift. Individuals wearing open-toed shoes such as sandals, flip flops, soccer slides, Crocs, Keens, slippers etc. will not be allowed to work in the warehouse under any circumstances. Also, high heeled shoes are not appropriate in a warehouse setting. 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 simply standing on concrete to actual lifting. If you require special accommodations please contact us at 630.443.6910 before registering.

When you arrive for your shift, you’ll notice some changes. Volunteers can walk up to any computer kiosk available to them when they arrive. On the home screen, enter an email address or first and last name to check in. If you are active in our system, your contact info will pop up on the screen and you’ll check “this is me” to sign in. If your email address is not yet active in the system, please go online to www.volunteer-northernilfoodbank.org to set up your new password. If you have any trouble doing this, send an email to the Volunteer Team so we can help! [email protected]

At some of our opportunities, you might see a staff member or volunteer leader with a tablet ready 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.

The biggest change for our volunteers who help out multiple times a week, monthly and who have a badge with a bar code, is that there will not be a scanner to check in. Please keep your name badge so we know who you are and for safety. It is important that every volunteer have at least their first name displayed where staff can see it while they are volunteering. To learn how you’ll check in starting November 2022, please see What will check in look like when I arrive for my next shift?

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

Sign up now to receive our volunteer email newsletter once a month.

Donate!

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.