Frequently Asked Questions for Volunteers
In our repack sessions, we focus on putting large quantities of bulk food into packages that individuals and families can use. Projects include repacking bulk products such as pasta or rice to individual/family portions, assembling boxes with assorted food, checking expiration dates, labeling products and gleaning produce.
Opportunities are available Tuesday through Saturday. Morning, afternoon and evening sessions are held throughout the week. Availability varies based on number of people in your group. Be sure to book ahead to get a spot for your group. Please refer to our volunteer calendar to check for available dates. All available sessions will be posted up to two months in advance.
Anyone 14 years of age and older may volunteer at the Food Depository during regular sessions. Ages 14 and 15 need to be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18. Ages 16 and older can volunteer independently. High school and youth groups may volunteer with one adult for every 10 youth.
Each month, we host a Kids Day Repack. During school breaks, we also host Family Day Repacks. These Kids Day and Family Day Repacks are our Repack sessions designed for kids ages 5 to 13. We require a 1:2 adult to child ratio. Please refer to our volunteer calendar for dates and availability.
All FRESH Truck volunteers must be ages twelve and older. Any volunteers between the ages of 12-15 must have an adult volunteer with them.
All volunteer drivers and driver helpers must be at least 21 years old.
Our special events accommodate a range of different age groups, depending on the event. For Food Shows, volunteers must be at least 18 years old. At the Hunger Walk and Corn/Squash Harvest, volunteers must be at least 8 years old and be accompanied by an adult. For some Theme Night Repacks, volunteers aged 8 and up may attend accompanied by an adult. For bag distributions, volunteers must be 14 years old or older accompanied by an adult.
We can accommodate different group sizes based on the day and volunteer opportunity.
- Repack sessions during weekday business hours: Groups of up to 30 people
- Wednesday evening repack sessions: Groups of up to 20
- Saturday repack sessions: Groups of up to 15
- FRESH Truck distributions: Individuals and groups of 2-3 people.
If you’d like to inquire about bringing a larger group for a weekday session, please send us a message.
Volunteers must wear long pants, shirts with sleeves, and close-toed shoes. You will not be permitted to work in the warehouse if you are wearing sandals or shorts/short skirt. Depending on the project you are assigned to, you may be asked to remove jewelry (including piercings, but rings are acceptable).
All volunteers must register in advance for a session. We are unable to accommodate walk-in volunteers.
Our sessions often fill up quickly, so we recommend that you schedule your sessions as early as possible. Our online calendar updates in real time when volunteers register. If a session is full, check back periodically to see if spots have opened up.
The Repack schedule is available on our online calendar two months in advance. Our Kids Day registration and FRESH Truck registration is available on the first business day of the month prior to the event date.
Individuals and group leaders register directly through our calendar for volunteer sessions. If you are volunteering with a group, please check with your group leader for the registration link for your group.
We ask that each volunteer who is able bring at least one shelf-stable food item to donate. Priority items include the following: canned vegetables, soup, stew, tuna, canned fruit, rice, beans, pasta, pasta sauce, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter and jelly. View a full list of most-needed items.
A limited number of lockers are available for small bags, but larger items are not encouraged.
Repack volunteers will receive a brief orientation with information about the Food Depository, the work we do and descriptions of the session’s projects at the start of the session. FRESH Truck volunteers will receive an overview of the role of the FRESH Truck and the volunteer jobs immediately before the distribution.
Trainings for our special events typically take place at the start of the event. Please plan on arriving and checking in at least 15 minutes prior to the start time so orientation can begin punctually.
All volunteer drivers will need to attend a training prior to volunteering. Optional Hunger Walk trainings take place prior to the Hunger Walk. The trainings are located at 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, Chicago, IL 60632.
Repack volunteers are not required to do heavy lifting, but should be prepared to stand for 90 minutes at a time with some light lifting and bending, depending on the project. Some volunteer positions, including produce delivery and loading vehicles, do require heavy lifting.
The Food Depository is closed on Sunday. Please contact a member agency in your area for possible Sunday opportunities.
For Repack Sessions on weekdays, non-metered, non-permit parking is available on Karlov Ave., Ann Lurie Place (42nd Place) and 40th Street. Please refrain from parking on Keeler Ave., which is currently reserved for construction vehicles.
The Food Depository’s parking lot is available for Wednesday evening and Saturday volunteer sessions.
For FRESH Truck distributions and special events, please refer to the reminder email sent 1-2 days prior to the event for parking information.
Anyone volunteering to fulfill court-ordered community service must be approved by our Human Resources department prior to scheduling. Please fill out an application online, making sure you attach any court-issued paperwork stating the nature of the offense. Once all paperwork has been submitted, you will be notified in two to four business days of your application status. If your application is approved, you will be free to schedule your service. Please do not schedule any service until you have been contacted.