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Volunteers are extremely important to the Food Bank and we are grateful for all your time, hard work, and support in the fight against hunger. Here's what you need to know to make the most of your time:

  • Volunteers needing court-ordered hours must be pre-screened and volunteer at an approved time and location. Please contact Volunteer Services at (408) 266-8866 extension 150 to discuss volunteering to fulfill court-ordered hours.
  • Need hours for school? The Food Bank offers several ways you can volunteer for verified service hours:
    • Food sorting - Walk-in shifts are available at our Cypress Center (San Jose) or Bing Center (San Carlos) locations. Check the pages for closures and available shifts.
    • Food distribution - Sign up to distribute food in the community!
    • Other volunteer opportunities - You may be able to do other types of volunteering to satisfy school hours. If you see an opportunity listed, inquire ahead of time if hours verification is offered.

Food Sorting Age Limits

  • The minimum age is 14. Please remember that the Food Bank is a warehouse and there is always warehouse equipment in operation. We are concerned about safety for everyone!
  • Youth ages 14 through 15 must be accompanied by one adult over the age of 21 for every five youth
  • Volunteer groups with youth ages 16 through 17 must be accompanied by one adult over the age of 21 for every 10 youth.
  • Every youth volunteer must have a current signed Permission Slip on file.
  • Youth under the age of 14 can help in a variety of ways. Please read our idea sheet to find the option that is right for you!


The dress code at the Food Bank is casual and comfortable. However, to ensure safety and sanitation standards are met, please follow the requirements listed below.

  • Food Sorting/Warehouse
    • Comfortable, safe footwear is absolutely required: sneakers, work shoes, or boots. Volunteers wearing high heels, open-toed shoes, or sandals will not be allowed to volunteer.
    • Long pants only and no tank tops.
    • Dress warmly in the winter — layers are suggested, as are jeans, sweatshirts, etc.
    • Dress lightly in the summer.
  • Please leave purses, jewelry, and other valuables at home or locked in your car trunk. Necklaces and long earrings pose a safety concern in the warehouse. Second Harvest Food Bank will not be responsible for any missing personal belongings.


Warehouse Rules

  • NO EATING, DRINKING, RUNNING, or SMOKING in the warehouse area.
  • Food and grocery items in the warehouse are intended for needy people and member charities only. Volunteers are not to remove any products from the premises. This also applies to products which are deemed unfit and are designated for disposal.
  • All volunteers should remain in the assigned work area. Please report to your group leader or Food Bank staff if you need to leave the area.
  • Please remember that clean-up is part of our work. Your assistance and cooperation is appreciated.


  • Group contact/leader should confirm arrival and departure times as well as the number of group members with the Food Bank's Volunteer Coordinator two to three days prior to the scheduled day.
  • For groups that are regularly scheduled each week or month, please inform our volunteer coordinators for the Cypress Center (San Jose) or Bing Center (San Carlos) if you cannot volunteer or want to change your schedule.
  • Group leaders should feel free to print out these guidelines and distribute them as needed.


  • If you cannot make a scheduled time, please inform the Volunteer Coordinator:
    • Cypress Center (San Jose): Colleen Murphy, Phone: (408) 266-8866 x247 or email:
    • Bing Center (San Carlos): Veronica Torres, Phone: (650) 610-0800 x273 or email:
  • If you have a school-related service hour requirement form, please be advised that we do not sign third-party forms. A Volunteer Time Card is available for your use. See our volunteer timekeeping policy for more info.
  • At the end of your volunteer shift, have a staff member from the Volunteer Department verify and sign your requirement form.