Volunteer FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteering

How do I sign up to volunteer?

If you haven’t volunteered with us before, or if you haven’t volunteered since September 2011, please fill out an application:

If you are a current volunteer and are already in our system, contact our Volunteer Department at or 206.923.7453 to schedule a shift. You do not need to fill out an additional application each time you’d like to volunteer.

What sort of activities will I be doing?

At our Cherry Street Food Bank, you’ll be sorting and distributing food to our clients. Some volunteers also make sandwiches for our sack lunch program. At our Kent Warehouse, you’ll be sorting food and repackaging bulk food into family sized portions for distribution to food banks and food programs. At our Special Events, you’ll be collecting donations, holding signs, and answering phones. With our Speaker’s Bureau, you’ll be speaking about the work and impact of Northwest Harvest.

What is the length of my volunteer visit?

At our Cherry Street Food Bank and Kent Warehouse, shifts are typically 2 or 3 hours. At our Special Events, the length of the shift depends on the event.

What should I wear when volunteering?

At our Cherry Street Food Bank, all volunteers must wear closed toed shoes and layers are suggested. In addition, Cherry Street volunteers must have their shoulders and midriffs covered, and shorts cannot be shorter than knee length.

At our Kent Warehouse, all volunteers must also wear closed toed shoes and layers are suggested. Volunteers must also remove all jewelry when helping at the Kent Warehouse.

Can children volunteer?

Anyone third grade or older may volunteer at our Cherry Street Food Bank, our Kent Warehouse, and all our Special Events. Volunteers 15 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or adult chaperone. Adults must stay with their groups in their assigned work areas.

Volunteers 16 and 17 are welcome to volunteer independently with a signed parental consent form. Please print and bring signed form with you on your first day of service.

Are you able to accommodate the special needs of a handicapped or disabled person as a volunteer?

We do everything possible to allow volunteers with special needs to help us. Please call our Volunteer Program at 206.923.7453 for more information.

Do accept court-related community service volunteers?

At this time, Northwest Harvest is not able to provide court-related community service.

What are your guidelines?

Our Volunteer Code of Conduct

Can I volunteer just once?

Volunteers are welcome for a one-time event or on a more regular basis.

Do I need to schedule in advance or can I just show up?

All volunteers must be scheduled in advance. We do not accept “walk-in” volunteers. Once you are scheduled, if it is your first visit, you’ll receive more information and directions to the site.

Can I just volunteer for an hour?

Volunteer shifts are a minimum of 2 hours and we ask that volunteers commit to the entire shift. Our staff at the Food Bank and Kent Warehouse plan the projects based on the number of volunteers signed up.

Do I need to attend a training or orientation before volunteering?

We do not require volunteers attend a separate training or orientation. At the beginning of your shift, you will receive all the information you need to complete the activities.

Should we arrive early?

It is helpful if volunteers arrive 5-10 minutes before the beginning of the shift. This allows time to sign in, put your belongings away, use the restroom, etc.

Are there lockers?

Both our Cherry Street Food Bank and Kent Warehouse have lockers for volunteers, but we ask that you not bring valuables with you. Northwest Harvest is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

Is there a meeting room we can use for lunch?

Both our Cherry Street Food Bank and Kent Warehouse have Volunteer Teaming Rooms for breaks and lunches.

How do I get there and is there parking?

Cherry Street Food Bank
Kent Warehouse

Do you provide documented proof of volunteer hours?

We do. If you are a returning volunteer, you can log-in to our system and print out your own hours. If you are new, we can sign off on your hours. At this time Northwest Harvest is not able to provide court-related community service.

What if I need to cancel?

To cancel for:
The Cherry Street Food Bank: Contact Jeri at 206.923.7456 or
The Kent Warehouse: Contact Katie at 206.923.7472 or
Special Events: Contact Jennifer at 206.923.7453 or

What if our group has less or more than we initially signed up for?

Please contact us as soon as possible if there is a change in your group size. If your group is larger than anticipated, we will do our best to accommodate you.

Are there volunteer opportunities that don’t involve working directly with food?

Please see our Volunteer Opportunities page and our Special Events Details page for other opportunities.

What else can we do to enhance our volunteer experience?

Ensuring that everyone coming to volunteer is aware of the duties they’ll be performing and the Volunteer Code of Conduct is an important first step. In addition, some groups choose to do food drives in the weeks leading up to their volunteer experience.