I am a volunteer picking up at a food pantry. Is there anything I need to know?
- Each pantry has its own hours of operations and requirements, double-check the Be Kind RI Pantry list (link to pantry list) for any special instructions before visiting a pantry.
- Confirm with the requestor the number of people in their household and if they have any allergies (this will impact the amount/type of food they receive). Let them know a pantry may follow up for additional information that may be required by funders for general reporting.
- Ask the recipient if they want to be notified of any choices that may be available. Also, note that most pantries are doing pre-bagged distribution and have limited to no options for guests other than the package provided.
- Volunteers should wait in line and act as any other guest when picking up food. Some pantries have drive-up distribution models, others are walk-up and some may even be by appointment only.
- Pantries on the Be Kind RI Pantry List are expecting Be Kind RI volunteers, but may ask for a photo ID or to see the Be Kind RI text message request for confirmation as a general practice.
- If you have any issues picking up items at a pantry please contact Nesterly at (877) 958-8785
or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Thank you for your service!
Which pantry should I select?
Some pantries can only serve guests in their city/town or service area. Check the Be Kind RI list for the pantry in your community/service area
I have dietary restrictions because of medical issues or allergies, how should I let the volunteer shopper know?
Be sure to include any dietary restrictions or allergies in the comment box after you include pantry and your household information. Most pantries have pre-bagged items or limited choice right now, food will mostly be shelf-stable items for 3-5 days’ worth of food. The volunteer shopper will work with the pantry to try to accommodate your dietary restrictions to the best of their ability.
Why do I need to provide household information?
This information is used to determine the amount of food the pantry can provide based on your household size. Additionally, this information helps the pantry keep accurate data in partnership with the Food Bank for planning purposes and is not shared with any government agency.
How often can I request a delivery from a food pantry?
Many pantries only allow for pick-up either once or twice a month. This information is listed for each pantry on the Be Kind RI pantry list. If you need more frequent services or support we recommend either calling a pantry directly or United Way 2-1-1 to get connected with a social service agency in your area.
What food am I eligible to receive?
There are certain programs with income eligibility requirements. All pantries participating in the program will be able to provide a minimum package of food on an emergency basis with 3-5 days’ worth of shelf-stable food. For access to more services, you can contact an individual pantry directly to complete a more detailed enrollment process.
How many days’ worth of food would be provided?
On average pantries are able to provide 3-5 days of food on an emergency basis. The type of food provided will depend on what the individual pantry has available. You can coordinate with your volunteer shopper if there are any selection choices that need to be made.
Am I able to use my SNAP card to purchase groceries from a store instead of using a pantry?
There are several retailers that allow online purchases of groceries with a SNAP EBT card including Walmart, Amazon, and Aldi. You can request a volunteer to pick-up pre-purchased items, please check retailers’ pick-up instructions in case there is additional verification required that the volunteer might need. For more information about using your SNAP EBT online at these locations, visit Online Shopping with SNAP EBT. Please remember that you should never share your SNAP/EBT card information with a volunteer.
Where do the volunteers come from?
The volunteers for this program have been recruited from communities across Rhode Island. They have signed up to fulfil requests in their area and understand there may be additional steps to complete a food pantry delivery. All volunteers are background checked and managed by Nesterly, Inc. the company that manages the Be Kind RI platform in coordination with Family Service of RI.