We rely on the support of our volunteers, who receive inventory, shop for food, assist clients and more. They also help create a welcoming environment where clients feel safe and comfortable.

We encourage you to sign up for one shift, or several! If you have any questions, please contact studentassistance@niu.edu or 815-753-8300.

Sign Up for a Shift

General Guidelines


All volunteers must be 16 years or older. Any volunteer 15 years or younger must be accompanied by one adult per four children.

Scheduling and Tracking Hours

Register online and arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled shift. Check in with the volunteer coordinator and sign in. Sign out when you leave. The manager will refer to the sign-in sheet when signing off on your hours if needed.

If you think you may be sick, you must notify us as soon as possible, even if you've already arrived for your shift. We'll reschedule you for another time.

Attire and Personal Items

Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable/athletic clothing. Avoid "loose" clothing and articles that may fall into food, such as gum, jewelry and sunglasses.

We provide a space to leave personal belongings. However, NIU and the pantry are not responsible for the security of your personal items. We recommend leaving them at home or in your vehicle.

Use of Pantry Services

In general, volunteers may not take items from the pantry. However, if you signed up to receive pantry services, you can take items during your shift. Notify the volunteer coordinator and get a number at the start of your shift. Someone must be available to cover your shift while you shop.

Food Safety and Hygiene


Wash your hands before your shift and each time you work with a new product. Wash your hands in the bathroom sinks only. For other uses, such as cleaning rags or washing produce, use only the sinks located within the pantry.

Pre-packaged Foods

Throw away any item that isn't sealed airtight. Gently squeeze items to determine if the seal has been broken.

Don't open items or repackage large items, such as a five-pound bag of rice. However, if a product contains individually wrapped items, you may open it to give more clients access to the contents. Ensure that the nutrition information appears on each individually wrapped item, if applicable.


Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of contamination:

  • Always keep food six inches from the floor and four inches from the wall.
  • Always keep chemicals away from food.
  • Let the client take whatever food they desire.
  • If you must touch food, use gloves. Wear new gloves each time you touch something different, such as another food item, your face, hands, etc.


Food that was previously refrigerated may be outside of refrigeration for a maximum of two hours. After two hours, it's unsafe for consumption and must be thrown away.

Donated items are accepted if they're past their best-by/use-by date. These dates indicate peak freshness, not that an item has expired.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

All surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized at the end of each shift. First, use a rag and warm water to remove debris from serving surfaces. Then, sanitize the surface with a disinfecting wipe.

Join Our Leadership Team

Want to get more involved? Join our student team. You'll help with projects that build our program while gaining valuable leadership experiences that complement your academic studies. Previous Huskie Food Pantry experience required.

The application process is now open for spring 2024. Contact Jeanne Baxter at jbaxter1@niu.edu for more information.

Contact Us

Huskie Food Pantry
Chick Evans Field House

Center for Student Assistance

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