Volunteer Policies


Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Food Forward. Please read the following general volunteer agreement and subsequent volunteer policies prior to participating in a Food Forward volunteer event.

General Volunteer Agreement:

In order to provide a safe, positive, inclusive experience for all participants, volunteers agree to: 

(1) Respect the safety, boundaries, health, and well-being of all participants; 

(2) Cooperate with staff, Event Leaders, other volunteers, and partner organization representatives;

(3) Follow all volunteer procedures and policies of which they are informed; and

(4) Comply with all instructions given by Food Forward staff or other volunteers supervising volunteer activities.

Food Forward Volunteer Policies

COVID-19 Update: 

We understand that making plans, especially for in-person events, is incredibly difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want you to feel safe, comfortable, and empowered to make the best decision for you. Please use the cancellation links sent to you via email and keep us posted if your plans change, but know that we will be allowing volunteers substantial flexibility on our attendance policy below.

If you sign up for multiple volunteer events, but do not cancel your registration AND do not show up to those events, we may contact you to inquire into your absence. If we do not hear from you, we may ask you not to participate in Food Forward events until you are able to attend events for which you sign up. 


Attendance and Late Policy for Volunteers:

Because Food Forward relies on volunteers to conduct food recovery events and because our volunteer teams are very small, we have a strict attendance and late policy.

If you do need to cancel your spot after signing up for an event, we require at least 3 days of advanced notice so that we have time to find another volunteer. While we understand that emergencies or issues may come up with little notice before an event for which you’ve signed up, we ask that you notify us as soon as possible to ensure we can make alternate plans:

  • If you have to cancel, please use the link provided in the confirmation email.
  • If you have to cancel less than 24 hours in advance, please use the cancellation link provided in the confirmation email AND, if possible, call the Event Leader (contact provided in reminder emails) during regular hours from 9am-9pm.
  • If you will be late to an event, contact the Event Leader to let them know. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, please ask the Event Leader if they still need your help. 

If you do not follow the instructions for cancelling your registration and notifying your Event Leader above, our policy is as follows:

  • After the first occurrence, you will receive an email asking you to confirm you are able to attend future events for which you’ve signed up.
  • After the second occurrence, we may contact you again to review our attendance policy with you.
  • After the third occurrence, you may be asked not to participate in Food Forward’s volunteer events.

Children under 16 years old:

At all of our events, children 15 years old and younger MUST be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Children and adults must register separately as volunteers on our website, and parents/guardians must be present at all times and participate in the volunteer event. Unfortunately, we are not able to allow exceptions to our age policy.

Backyard Harvest Events:

  • Minimum age of 5 to participate
  • Volunteers under 16 must register and participate with a parent/guardian
  • Volunteers under 18 must have parent/guardian sign Food Forward’s release form

While most of our Backyard Harvest events are open to volunteers 5 years old and older, certain events may be listed as restricted to adults or older children. This is entirely dependent on the harvest site. Unfortunately, we are not able to allow exceptions to our age policy.

Farmers Market Recovery:

  • Minimum age of 12 to participate
  • Volunteers under 16 must register and participate with a parent/guardian
  • Volunteers under 18 must have parent/guardian sign Food Forward’s release form

Event Leaders:

  • Minimum age of 16 to train as an Event Leader
  • Volunteers under 18 must train and lead with a parent/legal guardian who is over 18; a non-legal adult guardian, such as a family friend or teacher, may not train and lead with a volunteer under 18

Each of our volunteer events is unique! Please be conscientious of volunteers and others in the area, wait for instructions prior to using any tools or equipment, and comply with all instructions given by Food Forward staff or Event Leaders (trained volunteers supervising volunteer activities). 

What to Wear: Closed-toe shoes with non-slip soles are mandatory for all events. We recommend that volunteers wear comfortable clothing that they don’t mind getting dirty, as well as a hat and/or plenty of sunscreen, especially in the hotter months. We also recommend that volunteers at our Backyard Harvest events wear protective eyewear, such as sunglasses.

Staying Hydrated: All volunteers should bring plenty of water to drink. Most of our volunteer events occur in locations without access to water fountains or taps. In hot weather, we also encourage volunteers to stay in the shade when possible and take breaks when needed.

Weather-Related Cancellations: We will only cancel a volunteer event if there is heavy rain, extreme heat, or fire/air quality danger, so please plan according to the forecasted weather. In the event of a cancellation, a Food Forward staff member or Event Leader will notify you on the day before or day of the event.

Equipment: Equipment should be used only for its intended purpose and as directed by the Event Leader. Boxes may not be stacked more than three high on wheeled hand-carts. Fruit pickers, extensions, clippers, and harvest bags should always be put out of the way when not in use. Boxes full of produce may be heavy, so always lift with your knees and please ask for help when needed. At Backyard Harvest events, do not feel as though you need to fill the whole box with produce; you may fill boxes as heavy as you are able to lift. 

COVID 19: You may receive additional instructions before and/or during volunteer events that describe safety and sanitary precautionary measures that we are taking due to COVID-19. As a volunteer, you must follow all safety practices and protocol you receive from Food Forward staff or Event Leaders.

While volunteering with Food Forward (before, during, and after volunteer events), you may receive confidential information about other volunteers, including but not limited to names, phone numbers, and other personal or contact information.

  1. Do not use personal or contact information you receive while volunteering except as needed to successfully fulfill your responsibilities as a Food Forward volunteer. For example, please do call your Event Leader on the day of the event if you will be late, but please do not call them at another time.
  1. All communications must additionally comply with Food Forward’s General Volunteer Agreement.
  1. Do not share personal information you receive from Food Forward or its staff, partners, or volunteers with other individuals, groups, or organizations.