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Food Pantry Policies and Procedures

In order to operate to required standards, the Huskie Food Pantry follows a specific set of organizational policies


  • In order to gain access to the pantry, clients must be currently enrolled NIU students without an NIU meal plan during the fall or spring semester. During the summer semester, students must be enrolled for the following semester (and not have a meal plan) in order to receive access to the pantry. Students must present their NIU OneCard while utilizing the pantry services, at all times.
  • During university break periods, when Campus Dining Services are closed, any currently enrolled NIU students may utilize the Huskie Food Pantry so long as they present their NIU OneCard.
  • All clients are expected to maintain and uphold the policies listed in the Northern Illinois University Student Handbook. Any clients found to be in violation of the policies listed within the handbook will be dealt with accordingly.

Item Acquisition Process

  • The Huskie Food Pantry opens no sooner than 10 minutes before its scheduled start time. Volunteers need adequate time to set-up and serve the pantry’s clients. All clients must fill out the intake survey prior to receiving their numbered ticket. The surveys allow us to track data which we use to receive funding and community support for our initiatives.
  • Tickets are provided to each person after they complete the intake survey. These tickets guarantee clients’ spot in line and will be used to help with the flow of traffic through the pantry. However, if a client is not present when their ticket is called twice, they will have twenty minutes from when their number was called or they will lose their place in line and need to take a new ticket in order to receive access to the pantry.
  • Clients should not leave the pantry until they have ‘checked-out’ with a volunteer at the checkout station.

Clients are strongly encouraged to bring their own re-usable bags to each pantry. These cost the pantry to provide. Clients who do not have re-usable bags will be limited to two if the pantry is able to provide them.

Emergency To-Go Bag Policies

Emergency ‘To-Go’ bags are only available to students in emergency situations. Emergency situations include drastic food emergencies (i.e. a fire destroyed any access to food; they have expressed a lack of food). Since students will have weekly consistent access to the Huskie Food Pantry. Each student who is provided with a to-go bag must fill out the intake form. All completed intake forms should be sent to Student Involvement and Leadership Development after they are filled out by the student. These bags are located at:

We are excited to share our mission with the community! However, please be sure contact us in advance of your visit to discuss your interest in featuring the Huskie Food Pantry. All interested in taking photos of those who use the pantry are required to ask each person, individually, for their permission to do so. No pictures shall be taken without the subject's explicit permission. All media outlets who show up to the pantry without advance notice will be asked to reschedule their visit for another time.

Attendance Record

  • All non-pantry staff who wish to volunteer with the Huskie Food Pantry must first register online.
  • Arrive 10 minutes before their scheduled shift and check-in with the volunteer coordinator
  • Volunteer must sign-in and out when arriving to and leaving from the pantry.

This is the only way the Huskie Food Pantry will be able to track hours for those who need them as a requirement. The Huskie Food Pantry manager will use the sign-in/out sheet for reference when signing off on hours.


  • Close-toed shoes
  • Wear comfortable/athletic clothing
  • Avoid "loose"clothing/articles that may fall into food (gum, jewelry, sunglasses, etc.)

In order to avoid the spread of disease, if a volunteer recognizes that they may be sick, it is their responsibility to notify the Huskie Food Pantry as soon as possible, even if it is after they arrive on-site to volunteer. This volunteer will be sent home and given the opportunity to volunteer at a time when they are no longer ill.

Personal Items

Volunteers are offered a space to leave any personal belonging they choose to bring with them; however, Northern Illinois University and the Huskie Food Pantry are not responsible for the security of volunteers' personal items. It is recommended that all personal items are left at home or in the volunteer's vehicle.

Customer Service

All volunteers must focus on providing the best quality customer service to our clients to ensure the creation of a warm, welcoming environment in which clients feel safe and comfortable.


  • All volunteers must be 16 years or older and check-in with the volunteer coordinator when they arrive on-site. Any volunteer 15 years or younger must be accompanied by one adult per four children.
  • All items available at the Huskie Food Pantry are meant for clients. Volunteers should not take any of the items provided through the pantry while they are working a shift (they will be asked to leave), unless they have signed up to receive the services of the pantry.
  • In which case, they would have to receive a number at the start of their shift and it's their responsibility to notify the volunteer coordinator.
  • If a volunteer wishes to utilize the services of the pantry, they may do so as long as they have notified the volunteer coordinator and has someone to cover their shift while they shop. They must then return to their shift and must follow the client policies.

Food Safety and Hygiene

Hand washing

All volunteers must wash their hands before working in the pantry. The bathroom sinks are designated ‘hand washing stations’ and should not be used to clean out rags, wash produce, or otherwise. Volunteers must wash hands each time they begin working with new product. The sinks located within the pantry will be utilized for any other need outside of handwashing.

Pre-packaged foods
  • Throw away any donated item that is not sealed airtight. Gently squeeze donated items to determine whether or not the seal has been broken.
  • No items may be opened by a volunteer unless the product inside is individually wrapped and (in the case of food items) the nutritional value is on the individually wrapped item. Generally, if items are individually wrapped, they should be opened to provide more clients with an opportunity to shop for that item.
    • No "large" (i.e. five-pound bag of rice) item may be re-packaged by a volunteer.
  • All food must be kept six inches from the floor and four inches from the wall at all times.
  • Chemicals must be kept away from food at all times.
  • Use proper food-handling techniques listed below to reduce the risk of cross-contamination
    • To avoid any contamination of foods from the pantry by volunteers, please be sure to let the client take whichever food they desire. If food must be handled, gloves must be worn then changed each time an item, other than the food previously handled, is touched. This includes touching other food to be distributed, faces, hands, etc. New gloves must be worn each time this occurs.
  • Food that was previously refrigerated may be outside of refrigeration for a maximum of two hours. After two hours, the food must be thrown away because it is unsafe for consumption.
  • Donated items are accepted if they are past their best by/use by date. These dates indicate that they are at their peak freshness, not that they have expired.
Cleaning and Sanitizing

All surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized at the end of each Huskie Food Pantry night.

  • To consider an area "clean", all debris must be removed from all serving surfaces each night. Please use a rag with warm water to do this.
  • After the area is "cleaned", it must be sanitized using a disinfecting wipe. Simply using a disinfecting wipe does not mean the area has been cleaned. Both cleaning and sanitizing must occur for it to be considered clean.

Contact Us

Huskie Food Pantry
Chick Evans Field House

Hours of Operation

Thursday, 5-7 p.m.