Volunteers are the heart of Food for People. It takes a community of volunteers to make our programs services successful. In fact, last year local volunteers put in 36,151 hours sorting and distributing food, harvesting produce, interviewing and assisting clients, assisting with clerical tasks and much, much more. That’s equivalent to 20 full-time staff positions!
At Food for People, the time volunteers give us is golden. Without a doubt volunteers are essential in helping us make sure that people in need have enough to eat. An average of 381 volunteers per month help us accomplish our mission, and there are a variety of volunteer jobs to suit all types of skills and interests. Our volunteer coordinator would love to hear from you, and would be happy to match your skills and talents with our volunteer needs.
NEW TIME: As of November 2013, Volunteer Orientation is every Monday at 2:30pm, except holidays.
New Additonal Hours: Saturday, November 14th, 2013 - We will be open for a special volunteer day from 10 am to 1 pm at our Eureka location (307 W 14th Street) for people who can't volunteer during the work week.
All volunteers are required to attend an orientation to begin volunteering. Orientations generally last about an hour. During that time, we fill out paperwork, tour the facilities, discuss various volunteer opportunities, and get you signed up with a shift that fits your schedule and interests. If you are unable to make one of the regularly scheduled orientations, our Volunteer Coordinator will be happy to arrange another time.
Click here to reach our Volunteer Coordinator by email or call (707) 445-3166, extension 310.
Please click here to fill out the form to send your information to our Volunteer Coordinator.
Below is a list of volunteer opportunities at Food for People. If you would like to volunteer in one of these ways or have a skill you’d like to share with us, fill out the form to send the information to our Volunteer Coordinator.
Here are just a few ways that you can help as a volunteer:
Choice Pantry Volunteers
We rely heavily on volunteers to help us with the weekly preparations for our Choice Pantry distribution in Eureka. An average of 1,225 households (approximately 2,700 individuals) access this program each month. The Choice Pantry style of food distribution allows people to shop through our pantry and select the foods they want and need, so none goes to waste. Shopping is based on a point system to ensure that folks get a balance of foods across nutritional categories. Volunteers are needed in the pantry to conduct intake interviews and to assist folks with their monthly shopping appointments.
We are in particular need of Spanish and Hmong translators to help in the Choice Pantry. Some of our shoppers speak only Spanish or Hmong, and we strive to have volunteers staffed at all times to assist with making the Choice Pantry experience easy and comfortable. If you speak Spanish or Hmong and would like to help out at the Food Bank, just give us a call!
Warehouse volunteers assist in a number of our food programs. Activities include loading and unloading vans; sorting and boxing incoming food donations; stocking the Choice Pantry with food items; building food boxes and bags for our senior and homebound programs; packing snacks and backpacks for our Child Nutrition Programs; assembling emergency boxes; sorting fresh produce for distribution; and cleaning and maintenance tasks.
Senior and Homebound Distribution Assistant
We are looking for dedicated volunteers to assist with the on-site preparation and off-site delivery of food items to remote senior food distribution sites throughout the month. Volunteers will help prepare orders, load the van, and ride with our program coordinator to assist with off-site distributions. Seniors meet us at these sites to pick up their food. This position requires being able to lift 35-40 lbs repetitively.
Senior and Homebound Delivery Drivers
Volunteers are needed in a variety of communities throughout Humboldt County to deliver food and produce bags once per month to seniors and homebound clients who are unable to leave their homes to pick up their food at one of our remote sites. Our Community Food Programs Coordinator maps out short, convenient routes to clients’ homes, and we are seeking volunteers who can use their own vehicles and donate the mileage. This would be the perfect opportunity for individuals who can only give a couple hours once per month or volunteers with young children who need to accompany them.
Pantry Network Delivery Week
One week per month (generally, the week of the third Thursday of each month), we deliver pallets of food items to the pantries in our network throughout Humboldt County. Several warehouse volunteers are needed for a few hours each morning throughout the week to help our Pantry Network Coordinator prepare these pallets that will be delivered by our driver. Volunteers may sign up for one or more morning shifts. A strong back is needed for lifting.
People’s Produce Market
From May through October we offer monthly free farmers’ market-style produce distributions complete with live music and food demonstrations. Volunteers help set up the market, keep tables stocked, help clients select items, and assist with clean-up after the market. Our on-site monthly produce markets take place on the third Thursday of the month, May through October, in our parking lot in Eureka, and we are always looking for volunteers to assist between 11:30am and 3:30pm. We are also seeking bands and musicians to play for up to two hours at each market.
Children's Summer Lunch Site Supervisor
We distribute sack lunches to low-income children at established community sites throughout Humboldt County on summer weekdays. Supervisors are needed at all sites, mid-June through mid-August. Training is provided.
Front Desk Reception
We are in need of volunteers to staff our front desk at the Food Bank. The front desk is a fast-paced and vital position, acting as the communication link between clients, visitors, volunteers, staff and incoming phone calls. Front desk volunteers greet visitors, answer the phone, schedule appointments and input data. This position is ideal for someone who is comfortable multi-tasking and working in a fast-paced environment.
We are seeking volunteers to prepare lunch once a week for our volunteers working on-site. Many of our volunteers put in a full day of work, and we commit to providing a healthy lunch to make sure they have the nourishment and strength they need to get through the work day. Qualifications include a passion for cooking, the ability to cook for large groups of people in a timely manner, and knowledge of food safety and safe food handling practices.
Local farms, orchards and community gardens are a wonderful source of donated produce through our Gleaning Program. Gleaning volunteers assist our Local Food Resources Coordinator with harvesting donated produce, as well as picking up leftover produce from local farmers’ markets.
Food Pick-Up Drivers
People with small trucks, vans or station wagons are needed for a variety of local pickups and deliveries for specific food drive events throughout the year. This can include picking up food donations from local supermarkets and remote food drive sites, or picking up produce donations from a nearby farm. The schedule varies depending on the event or need (seasonal, weekly, on call), but we’ll do our best to find something that works with your schedule. Must be able to lift 50 lbs or more, have a vehicle, and be willing to donate the mileage.
Assist staff with a variety of administrative projects throughout the organization. Opportunities include assisting with office work, fundraising event planning, data entry, stuffing envelopes for bulk mailings, filing paperwork, and making reminder phone calls for our senior programs. Instruction and support will be provided, and shifts can be arranged according to your schedule. This is a great opportunity for folks who like office work.
Special Events Volunteers
Food for People hosts and participates in a number of special events throughout the year including food drives, fundraisers and nutrition education events. Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks depending on the event. Help us table at or sort food for food drives, prepare for a fundraiser, or run the pedal-powered smoothie bike at an outreach event. Let us know if you’d like to be involved!
Do you have special skills you’d like to share? Carpentry, plumbing, welding, graphic design, event planning and playing music are all skills we can utilize at the food bank for a number of special projects and events. Help repair that sticky door, or fix a broken shopping cart. Help design flyers or posters for fundraising events, or assist with event planning. Play live music for folks during our People’s Produce Market, a fundraising event or at our donor and volunteer appreciation parties. If you have a way you’d like to contribute, please let us know!
Group Activities Some tasks occur on a less regular basis and require larger groups of volunteers. These activities provide a great opportunity for your church, class, civic group or youth group to lend a hand and work as a team. Just contact us to schedule a group volunteer event:
Food Drives: Donated food must be sorted by food group and boxed when it arrives at the Food Bank. This usually takes several hours on the day of the food drive and in the days that follow. Large food drives generally occur in December and May, although businesses and other groups lead their own food drives throughout the year.
Produce Sorting: We receive large shipments of produce at our warehouse once per week, in addition to smaller shipments throughout the week. Volunteers are needed to sort and crate produce to make it ready for use by all of our food distribution programs.
Cleaning Days: The Food Bank distributes 1.6 million pounds of food per year, and it is an ongoing task to keep the facility and our equipment clean. Tasks include power washing crates, painting tables and shelves, scrubbing kitchen cabinets, sweeping and mopping floors in the warehouse and walk-in cooler, sweeping the parking lot, weeding our garden and washing vans.
Bulk Mailing: We prepare all of our own newsletters, program flyers and direct mail materials “in-house”. Volunteers are needed to help us collate and label everything and prepare it for mailing.
Please click here to fill out the form to send your information to our Volunteer Coordinator.