Frequently Asked Questions: Volunteering at the Food Bank

What will I do when I volunteer?

Volunteers primarily work at the Food Bank’s warehouse, completing a variety of essential tasks, most of which involve inspecting, sorting, and packing food for distribution.

On average, volunteers inspect and sort 30,000 pounds of food per week that the Food Bank receives from food drives and other sources. This includes checking expiration dates, quality, damage to packaging, and sorting the food into categories for bagging.

The Food Bank also occasionally hosts special events requiring volunteer assistance, which may take place off-site.

Do I need to schedule in advance?

Yes. All volunteer visits MUST be scheduled in advance. Due to health and safety regulations, there are no exceptions to this rule. After you schedule your volunteer visit online, you will receive a confirmation email which will include specific information about your volunteer assignment, directions to the North County Food Bank warehouse or special event project site, and a list of our policies and procedures.

Do you have specific time commitments?

No. You may volunteer one time or on a regular basis.

Do I need to train to become a volunteer?

You do not need any special training to volunteer. Simply register your volunteer visit and be present on your scheduled day. After a brief introduction, you will start working right away.

How do I schedule my volunteer visit?

Registering is easy. Follow the link to our registration page. If you are a returning user, sign in using your existing username and password. If you are a first-time volunteer, you will be asked to create an account and provide us with your contact information. Once you are a registered user, you can sign up for any open volunteer shifts.

Can I bring a group?

Yes. Volunteering at the North County Food Bank provides team-building opportunities. We welcome corporate teams, office groups, schools, service organizations, alumni groups, associations, families, fraternities and sororities, and faith-based organizations. If you have a group of less than five people, each volunteer must register as an individual. As long as you sign up for the same date and shift time, you will still be able to work together.

For a group of five or more, please email Wendy Starling, wstarling@sandiegofoodbank.org, to reserve a shift for your group. For best availability, contact us at least a month in advance.

Please allow at least 48 hours for a Food Bank staff member to reply to your message.

Do you allow school groups to volunteer?

We encourage college and high school groups to volunteer as the age requirement at the North County warehouse is 16 years old. However, due to health and safety regulations, elementary school groups cannot volunteer, but they are welcome to participate in a warehouse tour to learn about hunger issues and see firsthand how the Food Bank serves the community.

To schedule an elementary school group tour, please contact Liz Sheahan at lsheahan@sandiegofoodbank.org or CLICK HERE to fill out our Warehouse Tour Request Form.

Can children volunteer?

Due to safety regulations, children ages 15 years and under CANNOT volunteer at the North County Food Bank’s warehouse. Volunteers MUST be 16 years of age or older.

Can I complete court assigned community service hours?

The Food Bank accepts court mandated service hours, but ONLY misdemeanor offenses will be considered eligible, and additional documentation must be provided. The Food Bank will verify the information while your application is being considered. Failure to provide any of the required information will result in immediate disqualification of your volunteer application.

What should I bring to my volunteer shift?

All volunteers are required to wear comfortable clothing and bring a positive attitude. We do ask that you please keep personal items to a minimum (i.e. purses, jewelry, etc.), as the Food Bank does not have lockers available for volunteers to use and cannot be held responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items.

What should I wear?

Food Bank recommends casual and comfortable clothing. Close-toed shoes, tennis shoes or boots ARE REQUIRED. No heels, open-toe shoes, or sandals are permitted in the warehouse. The warehouse is not temperature-controlled, so volunteers are encouraged to wear seasonal clothing. In addition, please be mindful of the level of appropriateness of your dress, as we have a wide range age groups that visit our warehouse. Please do not wear or bring anything that may be considered offensive.

Where are you located?

All projects except for special events and food distributions take place at our North County warehouse facility in San Marcos, located at 680 Rancheros Dr., Ste 100, San Marcos, CA 92069 (right next to Restaurant Depot just off of Woodland Parkway). If you will be volunteering for a special event or at a food distribution site, we will provide you with detailed location information once we receive your volunteer confirmation.

I have more questions. Whom do I contact?

Please reach out to Wendy Starling, North County Manager, at wstarling@sandiegofoodbank.org.

Please allow at least 48 hours for our staff to reply to your message.