Volunteering During the Pandemic

Disasters can bring out the best in people, allowing their giving nature to shine through like a beacon of hope. These individuals rise above and beyond to show their love for others. They lead the charge in lending a hand, even when there’s a chance they could be harmed. That’s how we feel about our volunteers; those who continue to show up, even when there is a risk of being infected.

IMG_4068Volunteering with the food bank is a bit different these days. Before registering or even signing up for a shift, a volunteer must pass a short series of screening questions. We are cautious, because we work with so many clients who are at a higher risk. Some of our volunteers and staff also have loved ones they care for that are seniors or have a compromised immune system. It’s worth it to be extra careful. 

Mandatory Screening Questions

  1. Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100°F
  2. Have you been in close contact with (within 6 feet of) anyone lab-confirmed with COVID-19?

If you can answer no to these questions, you may sign up for a shift or register as a new volunteer.

Safety First

  • Matthew,LaurieIf you are ill or feeling any symptoms, do not volunteer.
  • If you are at a higher risk for catching COVID-19, do not volunteer.
  • If you are the primary caregiver to someone who is at a higher risk, do not volunteer.
  • Make sure you have your own mask to wear before coming in for your shift. A bandana will work. Ensure the mask covers your nose and mouth.
  • We will do a temperature check before you are allowed to volunteer.
  • Wash your hands frequently and refrain from touching your face.
  • Hand sanitizer is available for your use while at the food bank. Tito’s Handmade Vodka generously donated sanitizer to help us keep our people safe.
  • Wear gloves when handling food. Do not cross contaminate by touching other surfaces while wearing gloves you used when handling food.
  • Disinfect working areas regularly to ensure cleanliness.
  • If you cannot follow our safety protocols, do not volunteer.

Current Available Shifts

YOU MUST BRING AND WEAR YOUR OWN FACEMASK FOR EACH SHIFT

IMG_5790Once you have passed the screening questions, you are ready to register as a new volunteer or sign up for a volunteer shift. We recently opened up shifts in our warehouse and on food rescue runs. In April and May, we restricted shifts to distribution shifts that volunteers drove themselves to. Again, we were extra cautious to help flatten the curve. In June, more shifts opened up, and we hope to keep these slots filled with much needed help. 

Food Rescue

  • Small teams of 2-3 volunteers consisting of one driver and at least one assistant.
  • Drivers must go through additional training and a driving background check.
  • Food rescue volunteers take one of our vans out to local rescue partners like HEB, Sam’s Club, and Night Hawk Foods to rescue food that would otherwise be wasted.
  • The inside of the vans are disinfected after every use.

Warehouse

  • Volunteers in the warehouse sort through all of the rescued and donated food that comes in.
  • Most food that is unfit for human consumption is placed into bins that are picked up by local farmers for animal feed and compost.
  • Volunteers must wear gloves and facemasks when handling any food and refrain from touching other surfaces or their faces.
  • The warehouse and processing area are cleaned throughout the day to ensure a safe working environment.

Distribution

  • Current distributions are held outside and are drive-through.
  • These are our largest volunteer shifts.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to drive themselves to and from each distribution.
  • No volunteer is to place any food items in a person’s car, except for in the trunk.
  • All volunteers and staff must wear a mask during distribution.

Join Our Team

IMG_4187Now that you know a few of our safety precautions that we are taking to keep our volunteers safe, who is ready to sign up? If you are still uncomfortable being out in public, we understand. Not everyone is ready to be among people. Your safety matters. However, if you are ready to get out of your house and help some people, we’d love to have you on our team!

Visit http://haysfoodbank.org/give-time.aspx to begin your journey with us. You will be asked to answer the screening questions and then be directed to where to go to register or sign up for shifts. Don’t forget to read our Orientation Manual! We hope to see you soon!

About Hays County Food Bank

We are passionately committed to improving lives through food assistance programs, nutrition education, and advocacy.

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