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Volunteer at Foodlink

Donating your time

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year, more than 16,000 volunteers donate their time and talents to help Foodlink provide support for thousands of low-income and food-insecure residents. Volunteers are essential at all levels of Foodlink’s operations, from sorting and packaging donated food to assisting with our numerous food-related programs.

If you are interested in volunteering with Foodlink, please take a look at the opportunities below. For any questions or concerns, contact our Volunteer Programs Coordinator, Jessica Lockett, at 585-413-4094 or jlockett@foodlinkny.org

** To schedule court-mandated community service hours, please call Jes Scannell at 585-413-5059.

Getting started

New volunteers:

  1.   Register to join our Volunteer Network
  2.   Select a shift from our Volunteer Calendar

Returning volunteers:

  1.   Select a shift from our Volunteer Calendar

Group reservations:
(Group reservations are for parties of 4 or more and/or for all parties involving individuals 18 and younger.)

  1.   The group leader must first register as an individual
  2.   View the calendar for a desired date and shift.
  3.   Contact Volunteer Programs Coordinator, Jessica Lockett, at 585-413-4094 or jlockett@foodlinkny.org to finalize their group reservation. 

Volunteer opportunities

Find your perfect fit with one of Foodlink’s many volunteer opportunities! We have a variety of options that embrace a diversity of skill sets and are perfect for individuals, groups, and kids! Available opportunities are listed on the volunteer calendar.

Distribution Center

Foodlink’s distribution center receives millions of pounds of donated food every year. Volunteers will help sort, categorize, inspect, and assemble bags of non-perishable food items for those in need. This opportunity can accept individuals, groups, and kids. 

Requirements:  Minimum age is 8 years old. Volunteers must wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable/weather-appropriate clothing (our warehouse can be chilly in the winter months!). Adult supervision is required for anyone 8-16 years old. 
Shift duration: Approximately 3 hours
Physical intensity: Moderate; Will include walking and lifting boxes from 25-50 lbs.
Location: Foodlink – 1999 Mt. Read Blvd.  Rochester, NY 14516 (Volunteer entrance is located in the back of the building).

Project Volunteers

This shift is an extension of our Distribution Center volunteer opportunity, and is reserved for individuals and groups with developmental or intellectual disabilities. All shifts are one hour, and take place in the warehouse where volunteers will assist with different tasks including, but not limited to, assembling bags and labeling donated food products. This opportunity can accept individuals, groups and kids. 

Requirements: Minimum age is 8 years old. Volunteers must wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable/weather-appropriate clothing (our warehouse can be chilly in the winter months!).
Shift duration: Approximately 1 hour
Physical intensity: Light-Moderate; Walking and Standing. Occasionally lifting boxes up to 25 lbs.
Location: Foodlink – 1999 Mt. Read Blvd.  Rochester, NY 14516 (Volunteer entrance is located in the back of the building).

Curbside Market

The Curbside Market is Foodlink’s mobile farmer’s market that sells fresh, affordable produce in underserved communities. Volunteers will ride along with our Curbside drivers to 2-3 sites during their volunteer shift and perform customer service-related tasks at each stop. Volunteers are also expected to help load and unload the Curbside truck during the beginning and end of their shift. This opportunity can accept individuals only.

Requirements: Minimum age is 18 years old. Volunteers must wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable/weather-appropriate clothing (you will be working outdoors). Volunteers may bring water bottle or light snacks. 
Physical intensity: Moderate; Will include walking and lifting boxes up to 50 lbs.
Location: Foodlink – 1999 Mt. Read Blvd.  Rochester, NY 14516 (Start and end at Foodlink — on north side if the building; travel to multiple sites per shift).

Community Kitchen

The Foodlink Community Kitchen prepares 5,000 meals daily for students — mainly those participating in after-school programs. Volunteers will help prepare and assemble meals and snacks for children, and perform other kitchen tasks needed to ensure the safe and timely delivery of our meals. This opportunity can accept individuals only.

Requirements: Minimum age is 18 years old. Volunteers MUST arrive on time and wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothing. Hair must be up and tied, no nail polish, no jewelry and cell phone use is limited. | What to wear
Physical intensity: Light-Moderate; Includes walking.
Location: Foodlink – 1999 Mt. Read Blvd.  Rochester, NY 14516 (Kitchen entrance is located in the back of the building).

Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters is a 6-week, volunteer-led, cooking and nutritional course that is provided to Foodlink’s partner organizations (e.g. schools, recreational centers, retirement homes, etc.). Volunteers have three roles to choose from: Chef (prepared to teach basic knife and food-safety skills), Nutritionist (Prepared to teach Myplate guidelines), or Classroom assistants (assist participants or chefs during class). This opportunity can accept 3-4 individuals at a time.

Requirements: Minimum age is 18 years old. Must be available for three hours on a weekly basis. Must wear closed-toed shoes.
Physical intensity: Light-Moderate; Includes walking, bending, lifting an standing.
Location: Various locations

Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables (JSY)

JSY is one of Foodlink’s nutrition education programs. One of its many functions is to provide short cooking demos at the Public Market from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on select dates. Volunteers will help assist the JSY coordinators with a variety of roles including, but not limited to, food preparation and general clean up. This opportunity can accept individuals only. 

Requirements:  Minimum age is 18 years old. Must wear closed-toed shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.
Physical intensity: Light-Moderate; Includes standing and walking.
Location: City of Rochester Public Market (280 N. Union St.  Rochester, NY 14609)

Lexington Ave. Community Farm

The Lexington Avenue Community Farm allows Foodlink to grow fresh produce for multiple programs, and serves more than 60 refugee families living in northwest Rochester. Volunteers will assist with gardening work such as planting, weeding, spreading mulch, and watering. Gardening tools are provided, but you are welcome to bring your own. There are no bathrooms on site. This opportunity can accept individuals, groups, and kids.

Requirements:  Minimum age is 12 years old. Must wear closed-toed shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.
Physical intensity: Moderate-High; Includes bending, lifting, use of a wheel barrow, etc.
Location: 631 Lexington Ave.  Rochester, NY 14613

Administrative work

Occasionally, Foodlink needs assistance with administrative tasks, such as filing, data entry and mass mailings. 

Requirements: Minimum age is 18 years old. Must have working knowledge of Microsoft Office, especially Excel. 
Physical intensity: Light; Minimal walking or standing.
Location: Foodlink – 1999 Mt. Read Blvd.  Rochester, NY 14516

 

Volunteer FAQ

Can I register my group online?

No, group leaders must FIRST fill out a volunteer application, view the volunteer calendar, and then contact our Volunteer Programs Coordinator, Jessica Lockett, at 585-413-4094 or jlockett@foodlinkny.org to have their reservation scheduled.

I want to volunteer with my friend, do I need to set up a group reservation?

Only parties of 4 or more require a group reservation. If you are looking to volunteer with a friend or 2 other people, please ensure that they fill out a volunteer application and select the same desired shift as you.

My child would like volunteer at Foodlink, should they sign up or can I sign them up?

Children who are between the ages of 8 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult, therefore the parent/ guardian must create a group reservation for their child. Children who are 17 or older may self-schedule online, but must turn in a signed volunteer application/ waiver here. | Access the form in advance

What is the age requirement?

Each volunteer opportunity requires a different age requirement. Please refer to the Volunteer Opportunities section to additional information.

Where do I park?

All volunteer opportunities (excluding Cooking Matters, JSY, and Lexington Ave. Community Farm will take place or start at Foodlink (1999 Mount Read Blvd).

Please enter through Lot B, which is in the back of the Foodlink building. Enter our parking lot off the Mt. Read Boulevard Service Road and continue straight back along the left side of our building. Turn right and continue past our kitchen entrance until you reach the Volunteer Entrance. Ring the buzzer if the door is not already open.

  • Cooking Matters volunteers will meet at their assigned site.
  • JSY volunteers will meet at the Public Market, in the indoor shed (B).
  • Lexington Ave. Community Farm volunteers will meet at 631 Lexington Ave Rochester, NY14613.

What should I wear?

All Foodlink volunteer opportunities require that you wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable/weather appropriate clothing. To volunteer in the Community Kitchen, please see the image above for further guidance.

Is there a place to leave my belongings during my volunteer shift?

Foodlink DOES NOT have a secure area for belongings. We encourage volunteers to leave all personal items in their car or on their person.

Can my group receive a tour during their volunteer shift?

Yes, they can! Upon creating your reservation, please specify that you would like a tour with our Volunteer Coordinator.

Can I or my group eat breakfast/lunch on site?

Dining at Foodlink before or after your volunteer shift is dependent on our volunteer conference room availability. Please specify your request with the Volunteer Coordinator to secure your spots.