Volunteer FAQ

How does keep austin fed work?

Our donors keep our volunteers busy by donating tons of food to transport to Keep Austin Fed (KAF) recipients. There is no cost to donors or KAF recipients – we provide equipment, training, and support while volunteers donate their time and use their own vehicles. It’s a lot of work, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We keep good food out of the landfill, and make sure we get healthy meals to our neighbors in need.

What kind of food are volunteers picking up?

All of our food comes from commercial food service establishments (grocery stores, restaurants, retailers, caterers, etc.). We do not accept perishable items from individuals.

We specialize in “just-in-time” surplus food pickup and delivery, and most of our donors give us prepared food — cooked meals, salads, sandwiches, etc., which have extremely short shelf lives; the food can be either hot or cold. For that reason, a quick response time and safe food handling is critical. That’s why we require volunteers have a food handler’s permit.

Some donors offer whole foods, such as crates of fresh produce, frozen uncooked meat, and bulk bagged salads. Others give us nonperishable foods. Still others donate a mix of all the above. Our volunteers occasionally handle other items like personal care products.

Donations must be in unopened packages or must not have been previously served. For catered events, we do not accept food in which guests served themselves, and we require donated food be kept at the proper temperature. We also do not accept home cooked meals or food that has been stored at a residence. Even if the food was prepared in a commercial kitchen, if it has left the control of the food service enterprise, we cannot accept the food (eg., private parties, business lunches, etc.).

How do I volunteer with Keep Austin Fed?

Please visit our volunteer page for detailed instructions on becoming a volunteer. We require our food runners to obtain a food handler's certification as well as attend a 2 hour training and shadow run.

How much time should I expect to spend on an average food pick-up/drop-off?

Most food runs take about an hour to complete, which includes travel time. Some are quicker, taking maybe 15 or 20 minutes. Occasionally, we have enormous donations that could take a couple of hours, depending on how many volunteers show up.

How often do I have to do a food rescue?

There is no minimum requirement. If you have made the 4 hour effort to become a full-fledged food rescuing ninja with us, we are confident that you believe in the mission enough to participate when you are able to. Once you are a member with us, you will be able to see our full calendar of scheduled food runs, and can sign up for whichever ones fit your schedule (if someone else has not already registered for them).

Can I bring a friend/kid/dog with me to do a food run?

We encourage you to bring a friend along. It makes the food rescue go that much faster when you have a helper. Most of our food runs are appropriate for bringing your kid with you, but we are not responsible for anything that happens to your children. Some of our runs take place at loading docks where there are large trucks coming and going. Some require you to enter cold walk-in refrigerators. But if your kid is well-behaved, and you want to spend some quality time introducing your kid to societal causes, feel free!

Under no circumstances can you bring an animal with you to make a food run. This is simply due to food safety regulations.

What is the minimum age to volunteer?

Almost all of our food runs require a vehicle, so a driver's license is more or less a necessity. If you have a driver's license, you are old enough. However, we do require that people under 18 years of age have their parents sign a consent form and release of liability.

My company has volunteer days and we would like to volunteer with Keep Austin Fed as a team. Are there opportunities for this?

Currently, we do not have many well-defined opportunities for the businesses that want to have a team building volunteer day (or half day). However, if you have an idea, we are willing to "think outside the box" to make something happen. We encourage your team to consider a longer lasting team building effort by Adopting a Food Run.

I have gone through the training and done the Shadow Run, but I am still not confident enough to do a food rescue run by myself. Can I tag along with someone?

Absolutely! Whether or not you have gone through the training - maybe you just want to see what food rescue is all about - we can set you up with one of our more seasoned volunteers to tag along on a food run. Please email volunteer@keepaustinfed.org to figure out a day and time that works for you so that we can help set that up.

I don't have a car (or I have a very small car). Is that going to be a problem?

Because we rely on minimizing transport time, and the summers in Texas can be hard on food without an air-conditioned car, we have only a couple of food runs that could be done by bicycle, and only if you have a large enough bike trailer to carry a large cooler full of food. However, we do have several food runs that do not require a lot of space in your car. Some of our food runs are very high volume, but we find that you can fit a lot more food than you think in most cars. As you become familiar with the variety of runs, you will learn which are appropriate for your vehicle. If you have any questions about the potential volume of food on a run, please ask our other volunteers for their experiences.

Does anyone get paid to make food runs for Keep Austin Fed?

We have a very small paid staff at Keep Austin Fed whose responsibilities are to keep the program running. Once the logistics of a food run route are established, we rely entirely on volunteers to make the food rescues. Some of our paid staff make food rescues as well, but this is done as volunteer time.