Plan your volunteer experience today

You can volunteer in many different ways, from supporting an event to helping us distribute food to clients each week or serving lunch on a Wednesday.

Like many food pantries, we rely heavily on volunteers to keep our pantry open and ready to serve the people who need our services most.

We use Sign-Up to help you register easily for volunteer opportunities. They fill up fast so plan ahead! Before accessing Sign-Up, please see the information below on regular weekly or monthly assignments, along with special seasonal events and food drives.

All new volunteers must fill out our simple volunteer application form. Please email with any questions.



weekly food distribution and produce day


weekly food distribution and produce day

Weekly Food Distribution

Every Wednesday we distribute food to clients from 1 to 4 p.m. and from  6 to 8 p.m. On Thursdays our distribution hours are 1 to 4 p.m.  Volunteers help stock shelves, bag groceries, and assist clients as they shop for their favorite items.

Monthly Produce Distribution

Produce Day volunteers help us provide thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to hundreds of neighbors in need. Join us for distribution on the third Monday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Volunteers help unload the produce, bag it and distribute to clients. Groups of up to 30 people are welcome. This is a great corporate volunteer activity!

Food Drives

Host a food at your school, club or place of work of worship. We can provide containers, signage and our wish list. You can also connect with one of our grocery store partners to host a food drive right at the store. Contact us at (773) 327-0553 in advance to coordinate your drive.

Greater Chicago Food Depository

We receive food credits from the depository to buy food for our clients. You can volunteer directly with the depository at its headquarters on the southwest side. Check out the website at or contact the depository at (773) 247-3663 to speak with a group volunteer coordinator. Please reference our agency code (A00003) when signing up.

Festivals and Events

Our volunteers staff  gates, serve beverages, sell tickets and perform other duties, earning grant dollars for Common Pantry at local street festivals and events. We pair volunteers in groups of two or three for shifts, with up to 40 volunteers per festival. For some assignments, volunteers must be at least 18 or at least 21 years old. Check the upcoming event opportunities.

Administrative Help

Occasionally we need administrative or technology assistance at the Pantry. Stay tuned for posted volunteer opportunities or email the director at to inquire.

How Families Can Volunteer

Sign up online for our family-friendly volunteer opportunities such as Common Kids. Check the website regularly for scheduled events.

Hold a Food Drive: Do you have a birthday party, block party of other activity coming up this summer? Invite people to bring non-perishables to donate (Pantry clients particularly need coffee, cooking oil, diapers in sizes 4-6, full size shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes, etc.) View our Wishlist for ideas on what to donate.

NEW for summer: Common Kids Lunch Making on July 25 and August 22 – Children and parents gather Wednesday morning to make sandwiches and fill brown bags with lunch-time favorites. Older children and parents or guardians return at lunch-time to serve and briefly interact with clients. Our needs include:

  • 8:30-10:30: 6 children and their parents (ideal for ages 8-12)
  • 11:30-12:30: 4 children and parents (ideal for ages 10+)

Bagging Groceries for homebound distribution – Once a month, volunteers deliver groceries to elderly clients; we bag groceries in advance for 30 households. Ideal for 1-2 adults with 1-3 kids. Flexible time. (Ages 8+ with a parent/care-giver).

Thursday Shelf Re-stocking – A great “school’s out” activity! Help us prepare the pantry for Thursday afternoon distribution by stocking food from 12-1pm. (Age 10+ with a parent/care-giver).

Back to School Supplies Drive – Yes, we are already thinking ahead to August, when we will collect school supplies outside neighborhood Staples stores, organize them into age-appropriate kits, and provide brand-new backpack to all registered Pantry kids. Parents- would you like to help plan this exciting project? Email

Join a Committee

Our volunteer board has a number of committees devoted to accomplishing the diverse work of the pantry. Current committees include Events, Communications, Development/fundraising and Community Relations. We are always interested in hearing from community members who have special skills to offer!  You need not be a board member to serve on a committee. Contact for more information about committees.

Donate Food and Goods

Donations of food, personal care items, office supplies and gift cards are always welcome!

Donate Food and Personal Care Items

Our unique “client choice” food distribution model means families have the opportunity to choose some of their favorite foods. Your donation helps ensure we have a broader selection available.

We accept non-perishable food, as well as frozen meat,  produce and dairy items, if they are unopened and within expiration dates. We do not accept prepared meals or cooked leftover items. We know that personal care and hygiene is important for health and dignity. We accept many items, including toiletries, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and wipes, as long as packages are unopened and product is unused.

We no longer accept clothing and household items. We simply do not have the space and resources to accommodate them. Please donate these items to the Lincoln Square Friendship Center  or other not for profit, preferably one that provides clothing to needy people at no cost.

Donate Gift Cards or Services

Do you own or manage a store, restaurant or other retail establishment? Or find yourself with gift cards you are unlikely to use after a holiday or birthday? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution in the form of a gift card. We welcome restaurant and retail gift cards, along with certificates for spa services and house cleaning. These are used for raffle prizes at events that help us increase revenues.

Donate Office and Pantry Supplies

Your generous donation of supplies helps us keep our operating costs down. We appreciate:

  • Basic supplies like copy paper, tape, file folders, paper and binder clips, staplers, scissors, box cutters
  • General supplies like stamps, large mailing envelopes and zip lock bags of all sizes
  • Printer toner cartridges (check with us on type)
  • Can openers

If you are considering donation a large item (computer, printer) please contact us at (773) 327-0553 in advance.

Donate Seasonal Items

During key points in the year, such as the holidays and back-to-school season, we have an increased need for items like hats and gloves, school supplies and children’s toys. Please contact us at (773) 327-0553 or regarding seasonal donations.

Drop off your  donations between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, or  9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Please call us at (773) 327-0553 to arrange another time.