Volunteer FAQs


How do volunteers help the Food Bank?

Volunteers are critical to our mission.  We could NOT do what we do without your help.  You improve the lives of others and bring joy and hope to countless families and individuals and more importantly, help build a better community. 

Who may volunteer?

Volunteering with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is perfect for individuals, families, corporate groups, religious groups and social groups. We can accommodate groups of up to 150 individuals. It is a great way to connect with others and demonstrate your commitment to the community. 

What is the minimum age to volunteer?

  • Minimum age with adult: 12 years old
  • Minimum age without adult: 16 years old

Please complete a Youth Release Form for volunteers under 18 years old.

* All minor volunteers completing court-ordered community service must have a parent/guardian participate for their first shift and have charges approved by a St. Mary's staff member prior. 

Click here for the SMFBA Volunteer Engagement Team contact information.

What types of activities will I be doing?

Volunteer activities vary depending upon the specific location at which you’ll be volunteering. A wide variety of jobs are performed by Food Bank volunteers, such as:

  • Packing emergency food boxes, sorting food or re-packaging bulk food items
  • Packing emergency food program carts for client distribution
  • Direct client intake and/or assistance
  • Cold meal preparation or meal packing specifically for Kids Cafe and a backpack program
  • Data entry
  • Off-site special events to include: mobile pantries at which you might handle set-up and/or staffing, accepting incoming donations at community events, etc.

Can you accommodate groups?

Yes. We offer volunteer opportunities for groups ranging from 5 individuals to 120 individuals. It's a great way to build team spirit and show off your awesome teamwork skills. Please contact our volunteer engagement team to reserve your group volunteer opportunity at volunteer.services@firstfoodbank.org or 602-343-3134. 

Can I complete Court-ordered community service or program-mandated service?

Any court-ordered or program-mandated (DES, Maximus, Immigration, Housing, etc.) volunteers are required to obtain prior approval by contacting the volunteer engagement team.  Click here for the contact numbers.

How do I sign-up to volunteer? 

The process is as simple as 1-2-3! Individuals age 14 and up can register using our online volunteer portal at http://volunteer.firstfoodbank.org.

Individuals under 18 will still need to provide a youth waiver signed by a parent/guardian. Click here to download the youth waiver form. 

1. Simply click on LOGIN in the upper right-hand corner and create an account. 
2. Once you log in, you can search for volunteer opportunities using keywords, specific dates and/or the volunteer calendar. 
3. Sign up for one or more volunteer shifts that fit your schedule.

If you're volunteering as a group, please use the unique invitation code sent to you by the opportunity coordinator. Please contact the volunteer engagement team at volunteer.services@firstfoodbank.org or 602-343-3134 to set up your group volunteer opportunity and get your invitation code. 

You can also use the portal to modify your volunteer schedule and track your volunteer hours. 

Do I need to sign-up in advance?

Yes, we would appreciate it if you could sign up in advance of your shift either as an individual or through a volunteer group. 

Since our work is scheduled and must get done in order to feed the hungry in our communities daily, we DO count on those who have signed up to attend and be prompt for each shift for which they’ve committed. If you are unable to attend, please log in and remove your self from the opportunity. Please note that there are limited spots for our Saturday shifts. If you plan to volunteer on a Saturday, please sign up in advance. We may not be able to accommodate same-day walk-in volunteers. 

Thank you for helping us to stay on schedule!  Please realize that walk-ins for volunteer shifts may or may NOT be able to be accommodated.

Can I make an ongoing, recurring commitment to your mission?

You may volunteer for just one visit for any shift you would like to fill, if that is all that your schedule permits.  We appreciate any commitment you make to volunteer! 

Do I need to bring anything when volunteering?

Generally, any supplies required to complete a volunteer project will always be provided by the Food Bank. If you are required to track your hours, please be sure to bring your school or work forms with you for our staff to sign.  

Should you wish to get more involved in our mission and want to bring a food donation, your participation in this effort is always encouraged.  Click here for a list of the top 10 needed items! 

Can I secure personal belongings while volunteering?

We do not have space for storing personal belongings and recommend that you NOT bring extra personal items with you. 

Do I have to attend a training session prior to volunteering?

Volunteers will receive a brief orientation about the Food Bank and a more detailed verbal description and/or instructions about their assigned project prior to each shift.  Some activities may require additional training sessions, but you will be notified if this is necessary and of the dates and times for training(s).

What should I wear?

The comfort and safety of our volunteers is important. Volunteers should wear comfortable clothes to work in.  Please keep in mind that temperatures vary by season and also within our work spaces. 

  • Due to health department regulations, we ask that you always wear a shirt with at least a short sleeve. T-shirts are preferred due to the types of activities you may be asked to complete. Sleeveless, spaghetti straps and/or tank tops, low-cut or midriff tops are NOT allowed.
  • Please wear either pants, capris or appropriate business-length shorts.
  • Oversized or baggy pants are not apermitted at the Food Bank. A belt will be required to secure pants at the natural waist.
  • Closed toe shoes are REQUIRED when volunteering.
  • For your safety, it is highly recommended that all volunteers limit the amount of jewelry worn during a volunteer shift.
  • Volunteers should strive at all times to ensure that their clothing, appearance, and personal hygiene are work-appropriate and contribute to a pleasant atmosphere for both other volunteers and clients. Volunteers are encouraged to consult with an SMFBA supervisor whenever necessary regarding what is acceptable for their work area.

Is the work strenuous?

Most of our volunteer projects are not physically demanding, but do require free movement of arms and legs and could involve standing for long periods of time.  If you have concerns or more specific questions, please contact the volunteer engagement team by going to Contact Us at the top of this page. 

Are those with limitations able to volunteer (special needs, disabled, etc.)?

We do our best to arrange special accommodations for individuals with any physical limitations or special needs.  We encourage you to contact the Volunteer Engagement Department at the location at which you’ve chosen to volunteer.  Please be specific as to any accommodations you may need, so we can be sure to set up a successful and positive experience. 

May schools conduct a field trip for students to tour before volunteering?

Yes. Junior high and high school students are welcomed.  Volunteerism teaches civic duty and respect while developing leadership skills.  If a student is required to have proof of their volunteer experience, please be sure to bring along documentation requiring a staff signature.  Please present it to staff upon arrival and sign-in.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance requires sufficient adult supervision for all youth groups volunteering at each of our facilities.  Minimal supervision requirements are one (1) adult supervisor per every ten (10) youth. All adult supervisors will be expected to volunteer alongside the youth for support.

Please contact our volunteer engagement team to set up your school's volunteer opportunity at volunteer.services@firstfoodbank.org or 602-343-3134.

Where are opportunities located?

With two locations in Phoenix and one location in Surprise, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is generally able to accommodate most schedules and provide a worthwhile volunteer experience.

Click here for location addresses, business hours and click here for volunteer engagement team contact information.  

Are there any policies and procedures of which I should be aware?

Yes.  To review the general policies and procedures for the facility at which you will be volunteering, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the document.  

What if I have more questions?

Should you have a question we have not answered, we encourage you to contact us via phone or email.  Go to "Contact Us" at the top of this page.