Food bank seeking healthy volunteers

While many are returning home during the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the food bank is in need of individuals to donate their time so that they can continue to fight hunger in our community. The food bank makes safety a top priority, and shifts are limited to a few volunteers at a time to ensure social distancing and safety.


Miranda Torres, HCFB Volunteer Coordinator, carrying a box of produce to be inspected and then packed up for food distribution.

Before registering or even signing up for a shift, a volunteer must pass a short series of screening questions. The food bank is cautious, because many clients are at a higher risk. Some 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

  • If 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.
  • You will receive a temperature check before you are allowed to volunteer.
  • You will also be asked an extended list of screening questions upon your first shift. You will be asked if you have any changes for subsequent shifts.
  • 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 keep everyone 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 the food bank’s safety protocols, do not volunteer.

Current Available Shifts

YOU MUST BRING AND WEAR YOUR OWN FACEMASK FOR EACH SHIFT

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

Food Rescue

  • Small teams of 2 volunteers consisting of one driver and one assistant.
  • Drivers must go through additional training and a driving background check.
  • Food rescue volunteers take one of the food bank vans out to local rescue partners like HEB, Sam’s Club, and Night Hawk Foods to rescue food that would otherwise be wasted.
  • Drivers must wear gloves and change frequently when switching to a different item like between produce, bread, and meat.
  • 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. Gloves should be changed when switching any tasks.
  • Volunteers should stand six feet apart while working whenever possible. 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 the 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 the Food Bank Team

Now that you know a few of the safety precautions that are being taken to keep volunteers safe, who is ready to sign up? It is understandable if you are still uncomfortable being out in public. 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, the food bank would love to have you on their team!

Visit http://haysfoodbank.org/give-time.aspx to begin your volunteer journey. You will be asked to answer the screening questions and then be directed on where to go to register or sign up for shifts. Don’t forget to read the Orientation Manual! Call the Volunteer Coordinator at (512) 392-8300 x222 or email her at mtorres@haysfoodbank.org if you have any questions.

In 2019, Hays County Food Bank and its 20+ partner agencies distributed over 1 million pounds of food to food insecure households. On average, 2,555 individuals were provided food assistance each week. These residents were senior citizens, children, and many others facing economic challenges.  “Food insecurity” refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it.  Hays County Food Bank is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the public to perform its mission.  For more information, please visit haysfoodbank.org or visit us on Facebook or Twitter at @HaysFoodBank.

Press Contact:

Mallory Best | Communications Coordinator | Hays County Food Bank

P: (512) 392-8300, x 226 | E: mbest@haysfoodbank.org | www.haysfoodbank.org  

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Photo Caption:

Miranda Torres, HCFB Volunteer Coordinator, carrying a box of produce to be inspected and then packed up for food distribution.

Sincerely,
Mallory Best

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