I. The Basics & FAQs
You are required to read through this manual for information about volunteering, including dress code, age recommendations, basic training, scheduling and the importance of punctual attendance. Special orientation is required for any volunteer who needs class/course credit for volunteering (i.e. interns), and for those who are part of a return-to-work or job training program.
If you would like to schedule a tour of our facility to see if we are a good service match for you, contact our Volunteer Coordinator directly by phone at (512) 392-8300 x222, by email, or by text at (512) 981-7378.
A. How Should I Dress?
- Comfortable clothes (might get dirty)
- Closed-toed shoes (sneakers, boots, etc.)
- Hat/cap (optional)
- Hair tie (if needed)
- Face mask
- Formal wear, sleeveless tops, crop tops
- Open-toed shoes (sandals, crocs, flip flops, etc)
- High heels
You may be asked to change into acceptable clothing before continuing to work your shift if dressed inappropriately.
B. Where Do I Park?
- Parking is located across the street in the church parking lot.
- On Sundays, the parking lot is reserved for the church. Parking is permitted along the street or in our lot as long as you’re not blocking any HCFB vans or entrances.
- On Tuesdays, you may park in the back half of the church lot, clearly marked with construction barriers, or along the street.
- You may be asked to move your vehicle if you are not parked in a designated parking area.
- If meeting our staff at an off-site location for a special event or distribution, directions will be provided.
C. Where Are You Located?
Our main office/warehouse is located in San Marcos, near downtown. Our address is 220 Herndon Street, San Marcos TX 78666. The two cross streets are Center Street and Martin Luther King Drive. If coming from the university/downtown square, take Guadalupe/TX-123 towards the highway. Take a right at the stoplight where Buzzmill is and continue for about half a mile. You will see a green Hays County Food Bank sign on our street. If coming from the highway, take a left on Martin Luther King Drive after the second set of railroad tracks on South LBJ. Our street, Herndon, is about a half mile after Golden Chick. You will see a green Hays County Food Bank sign on our street.
D. Who Do I Report To For My Shift?
When you first arrive at the food bank, you will clock in using the volunteer check-in laptop in the front office. There should be a name tag with your name above the check in computer. Once you are clocked in and have your name tag, you can check in with the Volunteer Coordinator, also located in the front office. If they are not available, you can check in with the Warehouse Leads in the main warehouse.
E. How Will You Verify My Hours?
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO SIGN IN AND OUT OF YOUR SHIFTS. This is how we verify your hours. Do not start your shift unless you have signed in for the day. Please do not forget to sign out when you are done. If the computer system is down, we will have a place for you to sign in. If you do not sign in and/or out of your shifts, your hours will not be able to be verified. We will not make up hours for you.
F. Is There An Age Requirement for Volunteering?
There is no official age requirement to volunteer with Hays County Food Bank. However, there are some general guidelines that are age specific:
- If you are 18 years or older, you must complete the volunteer application for yourself, which includes the liability waiver. You are unrestricted in the shifts you may sign up for.
- If you are between 13 and 17 years old, you or your parent/guardian can complete the volunteer application. An additional liability waiver must be signed by your parent/guardian on or before your first shift clock-in. It is not necessary to have a parent/guardian with you while you volunteer. Some shifts may be restricted to you.
- If you are younger than 13 years old, you can volunteer with us, but you cannot have an online volunteer account. A physical application may be obtained at our office during our regular business hours. You may volunteer at any of our regular shifts, so long as a parent/guardian is with you at all times. Food Rescue & Warehouse shifts are not recommended for children under the age of 10; distribution shifts are not recommended for children under the age of 8.
G. I Have a Group of Volunteers! Is There A Special Process To Register To Volunteer?
Yes! While we would love to accommodate groups of all sizes, our current warehouse and distribution spaces limit the number of volunteers we can handle at one time. For groups with 3-10 people, a volunteer shift must be requested and reserved at least two weeks in advance. For groups with 10-20 people, special arrangements must be made by contacting the Volunteer Coordinator directly. Unfortunately, groups with more than 20 members are difficult to accommodate onsite and will be referred to other organizations or will be asked to split the group across a few days and/or shifts.
H. How Do I Schedule Shifts?
- If you have not yet completed the volunteer application:
- Complete a volunteer application here.
- Read through this manual.
- Contact the Volunteer Coordinator to activate your account. They will contact you via email and text to confirm your active account status. They will also send your PIN to you.
- If you have completed the volunteer application:
- You can sign up for shifts by logging into your VICNet volunteer account here using the email and password from your application. You will not be able to sign in or register for shifts until you have contacted the Volunteer Coordinator to activate your account. Submitting an application does not guarantee an activated account.
I. I Need My Hours Verified for School/Work/Court! / How Do I Request A Copy of My Service Hours?
You may request a signed, dated copy of your logged volunteer hours by submitting a written request to the Volunteer Coordinator no less than 48 hours before it is needed. You must give the Coordinator at least 2 business days to process your request. Failure to do so may mean that your hours sheet will not be ready when you need it. An example:
Sally Volunteer needs her hours verified by Friday. Sally must complete her hours and request her verified hours report no later than Wednesday afternoon. Her hours will be ready for pick up no later than 8:00 AM on Friday morning.
All volunteers can see their total hours served through VICNet under the ‘My Service’ tab. An un-verified copy may be printed from your volunteer account at any time.
We recommend getting a verified copy of your hours for your records. Once your volunteer account is archived (typically six months after your last shift worked), your record of hours is difficult to access and requires more time to complete a verified hour request.
J. Cancellation Policy - I’ve Had an Emergency! What Should I Do? or I Can’t Make My Shift! What Do I Do?
Volunteers are a vital part of the work done at Hays County Food Bank. We rely on volunteers to rescue food, sort and process donations, and assist at our distributions. In fact, last year, volunteers donated nearly 22,000 hours of their valuable time to help feed hungry people in Hays County. Our operations team at Hays County Food Bank works diligently to ensure that all volunteer shifts are filled with productive work, but that also means that each volunteer who signs up for a shift is crucial to completing that day’s work. We get it - sometimes things happen, and you can’t make your volunteer shift as scheduled. If this happens, please notify the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible by email (preferred), text, or by phone. If you do not notify the Coordinator, it will be considered an unexcused absence. Absences, unexcused or otherwise, severely impact the work that is able to be completed each day.
- After your first unexcused absence, you will receive a reminder about our cancellation policy.
- After your second unexcused absence, you will receive a warning and will be removed from all future scheduled shifts.
- After your third unexcused absence, you will be placed on hiatus for 30 days. You will be unable to sign in, register for shifts, or see your current worked hours. A written request to be reinstated must be received by the Volunteer Coordinator.
- Excused absences are also detrimental to our operations. Excessive excused absences may also result in a lock on your account. If you believe a lock was placed on your account in error, notify the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible.
K. I Can’t Log Into My Volunteer Account. / Why Isn’t My Password Working?
- If this is your first time volunteering, it is usually because you have not contacted the Coordinator to activate your account. If you haven’t contacted the Volunteer Coordinator to activate your account, then you will not be able to sign into your volunteer account or register for shifts. You must contact the Coordinator or your application will remain inactive.
- All account requests received outside of normal business hours will be handled during the next business day. Hays County Food Bank business hours are Monday - Thursday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM and Friday 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Hays County Food Bank is also closed for all major holidays.
- If it has been a while since you last volunteered, then it is likely that your volunteer account has been archived. Archived accounts are difficult to access and cannot be reactivated. If you would like to check the status of your volunteer account or suspect it was archived, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator. If you need to access your account, you will be asked to complete another volunteer application.
II. Rights and Responsibilities
Volunteers have the following rights and responsibilities while completing work at Hays County Food Bank. Violations of food bank policies and procedures may be cause for dismissal. The food bank reserves the right to ask any uncooperative volunteer not to return.
- Perform meaningful work in a healthy, safe environment
- Be notified of any changes to volunteer schedule in advance
- Have personal information kept confidential
- Be treated fairly and without discrimination
- Be adequately covered by insurance
- Receive good training in their job duties
- Be fully informed about job duties and expectations
- Have access to a copy of volunteer policies and procedures that affect them
- Be recognized for their contributions to the organization
- Complete work as assigned in a safe manner
- Arrive to scheduled shifts on time and stay for the entirety of that shift
- Ask questions when directions are unclear
- Keep client, staff, and volunteer information confidential
- Treat others fairly and without discrimination
- Listen carefully to orientation and training
- Meet volunteer expectations, to the best of your ability
- Read through volunteer manual and be familiar with the policies and procedures that affect your work
- Help recognize good work done by other volunteers
III. Safety and Cleanliness - Warehouse and Food
A. Facility Cleanliness
In order to protect public safety, the food bank must maintain the highest standards of cleanliness.
- Volunteers will clean daily, and staff will make cleaning assignments as needed. Duties include, but are not limited to: cleaning the restroom and kitchen each day, emptying trash cans when necessary, and sanitizing/disinfecting sinks, floor, and all other areas within the warehouse and processing areas. Staff will advise when the break room, coolers and freezers need to be cleaned.
- Wash your hands before and after each task when handling food products and after using the restroom, coughing, sneezing or touching your face or head. When washing your hands, make sure you wash with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- While processing rescued food, keep surfaces (countertops and tables) clean between uses. This is mandatory to reduce the possibility of cross contamination.
- If we are not loading/unloading, the back warehouse doors should remain shut to prevent debris and/or pests from coming inside.
- Immediately report any signs of rodents or insects to an operations team member.
B. Workplace Safety
Workplace safety is a top priority at the food bank. In order to promote a safe working environment, our policies need to be fully understood and followed. Violations of any of these policies may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. Please bring any safety concerns to the attention of a food bank staff member.
To promote a safe work environment, the following practices are prohibited:
- Use of cell phones within the warehouse/processing area
- Using earbuds to listen to music from any type of electronic device while working
- Mixing chemicals when cleaning
- Climbing on shelves
- Standing, sitting, surfing on carts
- Standing or sitting on the industrial scale
The following are best practices that must be followed when volunteering for Hays County Food Bank:
- Keep aisles and walkways clear and refrain from placing food items on the floor.
- Place items only in designated areas, away from doors and high traffic areas.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Use the caution signs to indicate wet floors.
- Use a ladder to get items from above eye level.
- Alert others near you of your movements to avoid collisions or other accidents.
- Learn and use proper lifting procedures with loading/unloading all vehicles.
- Use cleaning products as directed by the manufacturer.
- Use proper protective gear and never store chemicals around food items. Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) are available should any volunteer have a concern regarding all of our cleaning products.
- All injuries, accidents and other incidents need to be reported to a member of the operations team as soon as possible.
- It is mandatory that all carts be pulled, not pushed, through the warehouse and processing areas of the food bank.
C. Safe Lifting
Staff and volunteers will observe the basics of safe lifting as described in this training manual. A healthy person with no physical restrictions on lifting will not pick up or move boxes weighing more than 45 pounds by themselves. Any person with physical or medical limitations will not exceed the limits set by their doctor, under any circumstances. Volunteers are responsible to make staff aware of any physical limitations they might have and will be reassigned to tasks that they can safely complete.
- Take the extra minute to do a lift properly.
- Plan each lift – split heavy loads into two boxes if needed.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Tighten your stomach muscles.
- Stand close to the load with your feet apart.
- Bend at the knees and hips into a squatting position.
- Lift with your legs!
- Move your legs.
- Get help when needed; use the buddy system.
- Use special handling equipment as available (carts).
- Exercise and stretch to keep your back in good shape.
- When lifting with another person, work together to avoid injuries.
- Inform the staff of any injury or problem IMMEDIATELY!
- Lift a load that is too heavy for you.
- Be in a hurry .
- Lift an object that you cannot move with your feet.
- Reach for a load over your shoulders.
- Bend at the waist while lifting.
- Twist at the waist while lifting.
- Try to catch a falling load.
- Lock your knees.
- Try to be a “HERO” which may result in injuring yourself.
D. Food Safety Rules
We are licensed as a food salvage operation. For reasons of public safety, we must handle the food as any grocery store or restaurant would. Food bank staff members are responsible to make sure that food safety rules are followed AT ALL TIMES. Some of those regulations include, but are not limited to:
- All food will be transported and handled safely according to Health Department regulations.
- Volunteers and staff must use gloves, hairnets and aprons as appropriate when handling and sorting non-packaged food items.
- Food must be stored at least 6” above the ground for sanitation and pest control reasons.
- Cold foods must be stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Coolers should be closed and sealed when in use. Food storage areas for frozen foods should be closed and locked when not in use. Do not leave freezer/coolers propped open for extended periods.
- Staff and volunteers must watch for spoiled or opened food containers, dented, swollen or rusty cans, moldy breads and sweets, and spoiled or opened meats, etc. Such items will be disposed of properly.
- Properly label repackaged food items with the current date, content in package, and a food bank address label.
- All spoiled or open packages of food will be removed from the original packaging and placed in the trash cans marked for animal feeding.
- All spoiled or open meat will be placed in the designated container in the freezer.
- Under no circumstances will food designated for animal feeding be given to any individual.
- Remember, When In Doubt, Throw It Out.
IV. The Nitty Gritty
Volunteers may be exposed to private information about food bank clients or volunteers during the regular course of their duties. To respect the dignity and privacy of all people affiliated with the food bank, client and volunteer information will be used only for agency business and will be kept strictly confidential. Volunteers will not discuss private information about clients or other volunteers.
B. Workplace Violence/Harassment
Hays County Food Bank is a bully free zone. All people working at the food bank have a right to be treated fairly and with respect. No inappropriate comments about anyone or toward anyone will be tolerated. Any verbal and/or physical abuse by any person must be reported immediately to food bank staff who will investigate the matter and determine the appropriate action.
C. Use Of Food Bank Resources
The food bank is a non-profit, public charity designed to feed hungry people. All donations become the property of the food bank and will be used to support our mission to feed the hungry. No food bank resources (money, food, property, etc.) will be used for personal reasons or gain by any volunteer or employee. Volunteers are not eligible to take food home after completing shifts at the food bank. If you are in need of food, you must attend one of our public food distributions when you’re not on duty.
D. Personal Property
Volunteers are advised not to bring purses, backpacks, cell phones, or other valuable items to the food bank or leave their property unattended. The food bank is not responsible for the loss or theft of personal items.
E. Personal Hygiene
Volunteers are expected to maintain a level of personal hygiene so as not to be offensive to others.
F. Smoking Policy
Smoking is not allowed anywhere in the building, around the building, in the vehicles, at pickup points, or at any of our distribution locations. Smoking is allowed only in designated areas outside the building, currently only by the recycling dumpster at the end of the parking lot. Please help keep the food bank premises tidy by making sure all smoking materials are extinguished and disposed of in the dumpster and not thrown on the ground.
All volunteers should be fit for duty when they begin their shift. Volunteers will not be allowed to work when sick, running a fever, or in ill health. Staff reserves the right to ask a volunteer who appears ill to sign out and leave until fully recovered.
H. Inclement Weather
In the event of inclement weather, Hays County Food Bank will follow the operating guidelines of the San Marcos Independent School District (SMICD). Notification is usually scrolled across the bottom of the local morning news report, on the SMISD website, or social media. If they delay the opening of schools, the food bank will delay opening for the same amount of time. This will allow for the safety of all volunteers and staff.
I. Telephone and Computer Use
The food bank’s phone system is for conducting official business only. Volunteers are permitted to make emergency phone calls, but please ask for assistance and please keep the call brief. Computer systems are reserved for official food bank use and are only available to those volunteers assisting with the completion of food bank business.
You may take a 10 minute break for every four hours of volunteering. Please notify staff of your intentions. Food and drinks are not allowed in the processing or warehouse areas. You are welcome to bring food/drinks to put in the refrigerator. Any food items left over the weekend will be thrown out.
K. Substance Abuse
No person may use, possess, sell, or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while on food bank premises or while conducting food bank related activities. The legal use of prescribed drugs is permitted on the job only if it does not impair a person’s ability to perform essential job functions safely or effectively. If a hungry person shows up at the food bank or at a distribution site and appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, by law, that individual cannot be denied food assistance. If the individual is threatening, causing harm to anyone, or destroying property, have a staff member call 911 IMMEDIATELY.
Firearms or weapons of any kind will not be allowed in the workplace, in agency vehicles, at any off-site activity, or on food bank property. Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.
M. Vehicle Use
Staff and volunteers must be formally approved to operate any of the food bank vehicles. Operating a vehicle without obtaining formal approval is prohibited. Eating food in the vehicles is NOT allowed.
V. ThankYou for Volunteering
We are glad you are here to help. Our faithful and hardworking volunteers are the heart and soul of the food bank. We appreciate everything you do to help us succeed.
Our top priority is to promote a safe and efficient workplace for all. We thank you for your cooperation with the staff as they coordinate the daily work of the food bank.