The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry Volunteer Handbook

2018

Welcome to The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry (The Pantry). We are immensely grateful for your contribution of time and talent to help us fulfill our goal of building a stronger, healthier community by providing fresh, nutritious food to persons in need in the greater Mount Kisco area.

  • Location: The United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco, 300 E. Main Street (at the corner of Smith Ave.), Mount Kisco, NY 
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 834, Mount Kisco, NY 10549
  • Phone: 914-610-5187
  • Volunteer Coordinator: volunteer@mountkiscofoodpantry.org

The Pantry is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit corporation sponsored by and working in affiliation with local faith-based congregations, and has been serving the community since 1991.  Our weekly food distributions are staffed primarily by volunteers from our affiliated congregations, but volunteers from the community are not only welcome, they also play a vital role in helping ensure we are fully staffed for each distribution. Congregational and community volunteers also provide valuable support by leading targeted food drives; picking up, unloading, sorting, and shelving donated food; packing bags with fresh produce; and assisting with home deliveries.

Thank you for volunteering! Your interest and involvement make you an important partner in the effort to alleviate hunger in our community. You are making a real difference in the lives of your neighbors, and we are delighted you have chosen to serve with us.

 

Contents

Purpose of Handbook & How to Use It

Organizational Information

  • Mission
  • History and Background

Affiliated Congregations

Volunteer Information

  • The Pantry’s Commitment to our Volunteers
  • Guidance and Oversight
  • Time Reporting/Volunteer Sheets
  • Standards of Conduct
  • Age Requirements
  • Dress Code
  • Parking and Personal Property
  • Volunteers Who Are Also Clients of the Pantry
  • Weather Policy
  • Confidentiality
  • Safety
  • Risk Management Procedure for Volunteers
  • Dismissal

Volunteer Job Descriptions

  • Packing Produce Bags
  • Date-Checking, Weighing, Sorting, and Shelving Food Donations
  • Home Deliveries
  • Weekly Food Distributions

Policies and Practices

  • Non-Discrimination
  • Harassment Prohibition
  • Sexual Harassment Prohibition
  • Whistleblower Protection Policy

 

Purpose of Handbook and How to Use It

This Handbook has been developed to help you feel comfortable and confident as a Pantry volunteer.  In it, we outline some of our history, mission, procedures, and policies, as well as explain your responsibilities as a volunteer.  Our goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment for our volunteers, employees, and clients.

Please become familiar with the information in this Handbook. While we hope you will find the Handbook helpful, you may have additional questions about our program—please don’t hesitate to ask!  Our Director of Operations and Programs or a member of our Operations Committee is present at each distribution, along with at least one Board member, and they will be happy to assist you.

The content and materials in this Handbook may be modified from time to time in order to provide the most current information. 

 

Organizational Information

Mission

The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry is an affiliation of faith-based congregations dedicated to providing supplemental food to underserved residents of Northern Westchester.  We are committed to creating a healthier and stronger community.  Our volunteer efforts respect the dignity of those we serve and are an expression of the spiritual mission of our sponsor institutions.

History and Background

The Pantry opened its doors to neighbors in need in 1991.  The organization was founded by one church, one synagogue and one unaffiliated member, and operated out of the old schoolhouse on Moore Avenue.  We are presently located in the United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco.  At the first distribution, 8 families were served.  Over the past 2 decades the Pantry has grown dramatically, and currently serves several hundred families each week, 51 weeks of the year.  Now an alliance of numerous faith-based institutions, The Pantry remains dedicated to providing a safety net for anyone who does not have enough nutritious food to feed themselves or their families.  We provide assistance to any person in need who resides in a Northern Westchester community not already served by a weekly pantry.

We are a “choice” pantry that consistently offers clients a selection of non-perishable staples such as rice, beans, pasta and cereal, as well as milk, juice, eggs, and frozen meat, poultry or fish.  Along with canned fruit and vegetables we are pleased to provide fresh produce weekly.  Most Pantry food is purchased from the Food Bank for Westchester, Inc. where we have enhanced purchasing power through discounts and government lines of credit; $1 purchases $4 worth of food at the Food Bank!  Additionally, we receive weekly donations of fresh bread, bagels, and pastries; and we are grateful for generous donations of seasonal produce from local farms.

In addition to weekly food distributions, we offer deliveries to the homebound; food preparation, nutrition, parenting, and other classes; assistance with registration for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); screening for WIC (federal food aid for Women, Infants Children); and various health screenings provided by Northern Westchester Hospital. We provide bilingual verbal and written communication whenever possible.

The Pantry operations are co-administered by the Board and a part-time Director of Operations and Programs, with the invaluable assistance of hundreds of regular volunteers.  The Board is organized around working committees: Management, Finance, Operations, Governance, Grants, and Development. Our nearly-all-volunteer model means that there are many ways that volunteers can apply their skills to The Pantry’s mission.

The Pantry is supported financially not only by generous individual donors, but also by corporate and private foundations, state and federal grants, family trusts, local businesses and our affiliated congregations. 

It is our core operating principle to uphold the dignity of our clients, and serve them with kindness and respect.

 

Affiliated Congregations

 

Volunteer Information

The Pantry’s Commitment to Our Volunteers

Volunteers play an important role in helping The Pantry fulfill its mission. You can expect to be treated with respect and gratitude, and to be guided through a brief orientation at your first volunteer assignment. We are committed to equal opportunity volunteerism and welcome a diverse community of volunteers. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, disability, marital status, family, sexual orientation or gender expression.

We are committed to working together towards creating a safe, supportive, and caring volunteer experience where we can learn from each other and grow in service to our community. 

As a volunteer, it is understood that you will be providing services without monetary compensation. Your contribution may be in the form of assisting at a food distribution; making home deliveries; pre-packing produce bags; stocking shelves; picking up or unloading food deliveries; or sorting, date-checking, and weighing food donations.  You may also choose to organize a food drive in your own community. If this is your preference, you are encouraged to communicate with our Director of Operations and Programs, who can advise you on needed food items. If requested, The Panty may provide a document confirming volunteer hours as community service.

Guidance and Oversight

Each food distribution is staffed by one or more of the following: the Director of Operations and Programs, a member of the Operations Committee, a member of The Pantry Board of Directors. They are there to provide guidance for volunteers and are available to address any questions or concerns you may have. Do not hesitate to ask them for assistance.

Time Reporting/Volunteer Sheets

It is important that we track and recognize the amount of time our volunteers donate.   Please sign in and record the expected amount of time you will be volunteering on the clipboard on the desk in the distribution room.

Standards of Conduct

Please:

  • Be prompt and reliable.
  • Be courteous, friendly and helpful to clients, staff, and other volunteers.
  • Respect the privacy of our clients.
  • Carry out the role to which you have been assigned.
  • Ask for support when you need it.
  • Adhere to all Pantry policies and procedures as described in this handbook and at your orientation.
  • Report to volunteer ready, willing and able to perform your responsibilities, unimpaired by alcohol or drugs of any kind.
  • Display appropriate conduct or behavior that reflects positively on The Pantry’s mission.
  • Follow standards of conduct that will protect the interests and safety of all clients, staff and volunteers.

Age Requirements

Volunteers of all ages can participate at The Pantry, though we ask that volunteers interacting directly with clients at Tuesday and Wednesday distributions be 16 years or older. Younger volunteers may assist with other pantry activities such as packing bags, sorting donations, and stocking shelves. Volunteers under the age of 14 MUST have an accompanying adult.  Unaccompanied youth ages 14-17 must provide a Pantry Volunteer permission slip signed by a parent or guardian.

Dress Code

Attire should be appropriate for the volunteer assignment, comfortable, and should reflect positively on The Pantry.  OPEN-TOED SHOES ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED FOR REASONS OF SAFETY.

Parking and Personal Property

You may park in the parking lot behind the United Methodist Church for volunteer activities OTHER THAN DISTRIBUTIONS. During Distributions, in order to minimize congestion, please park in the limited-time spaces on Smith Avenue, or metered spaces on Main Street. Please put a note on your dashboard indicating you are a Pantry Volunteer, and the Mount Kisco parking authority will not ticket you for an expired meter. Please do not bring valuables to the Pantry, as we are unable to secure them for you. The Pantry does not assume responsibility for loss or damage to a volunteer’s personal property resulting from theft, fire, automobile accidents, or any other condition, nor do we assume responsibility for theft of or from, or damage to, any vehicle while the volunteer is at The Pantry or performing volunteer activities for The Pantry.

Volunteers Who Are Also Clients of the Pantry

Please follow these procedures for food distribution:

  • Please pick up your food at the beginning of your volunteer shift and store it in your vehicle or out of the way.
  • Volunteers may not take extra food or have food that is not part of that day’s distribution.

Weather Policy

The Pantry follows the weather-related openings and closings of the Bedford Central School District.  The Pantry is closed  (1) if schools are closed; (2) on Tuesday, if there is an early dismissal; or (3) on Wednesday, if there is a delayed school opening. Please check the home page (www.mountkiscofoodpantry.org) for up-to-date information, or call the Pantry at 914-610-5187. 

Privacy

Client information is confidential. No client information or proprietary information may be shared outside of The Pantry. Our clients are often our neighbors; please respect their privacy.  Do not post any photos of Pantry clients on social media sites, including but not limited to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.

While it is central to The Pantry’s mission to warmly welcome our clients, interact with them respectfully, and recognize their individual dignity, for reasons of privacy and safety we discourage the exchange of personal details, including address and contact information, between clients and volunteers.  Appropriate boundaries contribute to the effectiveness and inherent fairness of our operations.  If a client makes a special request of you, please refer it to our Director of Operations and Programs or to a member of the Board of Directors.

Safety

For your safety, Halstead Hall (where clients register and wait prior to the distribution) is equipped with smoke detectors, and a fire extinguisher is located outside the Pantry door.   When you arrive for your first volunteer assignment, please complete an Emergency Contact form, and update it as needed.

Please be aware that some volunteer jobs may include lifting and carrying heavy items; it is your responsibility to know your limitations, communicate them as needed, and refrain from activity beyond your abilities.

The Pantry strives to maintain a safe environment in compliance with federal, state, and local safety regulations.  Volunteers should report any unsafe conditions to the Director of Operations and Programs, a member of the Operations Committee, or a Board member.

Smoking is not permitted in the Pantry or anywhere on church grounds.

Risk Management Procedure for Volunteers

In the unlikely event that you encounter a client or other person who becomes disruptive, please notify the Director of Operations and Programs or another Board member immediately and vacate the Pantry.  Following any incident, volunteers are expected to respect the privacy and confidentiality of Pantry matters.  Additionally, in the unlikely event of a visit from a law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, volunteers should refer the Officer(s) to the Director of Operations and Programs or another Board member.

Dismissal

Volunteers who are not in compliance with our Standards of Conduct or Confidentiality requirement, who engage in unsafe or unseemly behavior at the Pantry, or who violate our practices or policies as detailed in this Handbook, are subject to dismissal.  The Pantry may request a volunteer to leave immediately if warranted by the circumstance. 

 

Volunteer Job Descriptions

Packing Produce Bags

Prior to Tuesday evening distributions, assistance is needed packing bags of produce.  Volunteers are needed from 3 to 4:30 pm for this activity.

Date-Checking, Weighing, Sorting, and Shelving Food Donations

The procedure for processing donated food items is: (1) date-check, (2) discard if expired, (3) weigh and (4) shelve.  Record on the form provided the name and address of the donor organization or individual, as well as the weight and type of items donated.      

Home Deliveries

Deliveries of groceries to homebound seniors take place on Wednesday mornings.  Volunteers pack bags between 8:00 and 8:45 am and then deliveries are made.

Weekly Food Distributions

The Pantry opens its doors to clients twice a week: Tuesday evenings from 5:00 to 7:00 pm and Wednesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:00 am. 

Volunteers should arrive by 4:30 pm Tuesday evenings and 8:45 am Wednesday mornings, sign in on the clipboard provided in the distribution room, put on a Pantry apron, and check in with the person in charge.  Please take a moment to use hand sanitizer at the desk as you sign in.  Plastic gloves must be worn if handling produce or bread.  Before the distribution begins, volunteers will restock shelves, pack produce bags, bag bread and bagels, and set out eggs and frozen items.

Bread and pastry donations must be weighed and bagged. Clear plastic bags should be used to bag the bagels and bread and small bags should be used for small pastries. (CLEAR bags should ONLY be used for the bakery items.)

Clients sign in with the registration desk in Halstead Hall and are given a number and a shopping card.  The cards are color-coded based on family size: Orange for a family of 5 or more, blue for a family of 4, green for a family of 2 or 3, and pink for an individual.  The cards indicate how many items in each food category the client may take, based on their family size.

Volunteers are stationed around the room at the various food carts (fresh produce, canned vegetables, canned fruit, rice and pasta, cereal, milk and soup, eggs and meat, other canned protein) and assist the clients in selecting the number of items they may take.  Each cart has a sign noting how many of each item a client may take based on the color of their card. A volunteer is seated at the welcome desk to take each client’s number card and, if available, one volunteer will be assigned to work as a hall monitor to ensure steady client flow.  To comply with fire codes, no more than 25 people may be in the distribution room at a time.

Volunteers make up bags (brown bag with plastic outside, PLEASE DO NOT USE CLEAR BAGS) for clients who do not bring their own bags. Volunteers assist the Stocking Assistant with restocking the shelves as needed and break up empty cartoons and dispose of them properly.  

 

Policies and Practices

Non-Discrimination

The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry is committed to the fair and equal treatment of all staff, volunteers, and clients. 

The Corporation does not discriminate against any applicant, employee or volunteer regarding any term, condition, or privilege of employment or volunteer engagement on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, veteran, or disability status, or any other classification protected by federal, state or local law or ordinance.

The Corporation does not deny service to any client (defined as a resident of Mount Kisco or one of its surrounding towns, or any Northern Westchester town not served by their own weekly pantry) on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, veteran, or disability status, or any other classification protected by federal, state or local law or ordinance. 

Harassment Prohibition

All forms of harassment are prohibited at The Pantry.

The Pantry has a specific and detailed policy related to Sexual Harassment Prohibition. In addition, The Pantry recognizes that harassment can take other forms, such as any comment, conversation, joke, slur, or other similar verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct related to a person’s age, race, religion, color, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, disability, or veteran status that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an intimidating, offensive or hostile working environment.

If a volunteer feels they have been subjected to harassment or has witnessed conduct believed to be harassment involving another volunteer, client, or person at the Pantry, they should report the matter immediately, verbally or in writing, to the Director of Operations and Programs or any member of the Board.

Sexual Harassment Prohibition

The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry (referred to herein as the “Corporation”) strictly prohibits and does not tolerate harassment of any kind of an employee, volunteer, or client by another employee, officer, director, volunteer, client, or by a third party, to the extent controlled by the Corporation.  The Corporation will take prompt and appropriate action and, where appropriate, punish behavior that constitutes such harassment.

DEFINITIONS

A.   “Sexual harassment” includes: engaging in sexually suggestive physical contact, unwelcomed sexual advances and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
  3. such conduct is severe or pervasive and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or abusive environment.

B.   Conduct which falls within the definition of sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:

1.   Epithets or slurs, threats, derogatory comments, unwelcome jokes, gestures or pranks regarding an employee’s pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, change of sex or transgender status, marital status, partnership status, familial status, caregiver status, domestic or dating violence victim status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, New York, or local law.

2.   Displaying, printing, or transmitting offensive sexually suggestive pictures or materials in the workplace.

C.   This policy is not intended to create needless intrusions on the freedom of speech or expression of employees or volunteers nor to regulate their personal morality. It is intended to prevent any harassment in the workplace.

D.   This policy shall be conspicuously posted for viewing. Each employee and volunteer shall read this policy and shall sign an acknowledgment of having received, reviewed and understood this policy. The acknowledgment shall become a part of the employee’s personnel file or be kept as part of the volunteer records, as appropriate.

E.   It is not considered harassment for a supervisor or manager to require employees or volunteers to meet performance or conduct standards.

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

A.   REPORTING. The Corporation encourages any employee or volunteer who believes he or she is being harassed or has witnessed harassing conduct involving another employee, volunteer, client, or person at the Pantry, to immediately report such concerns or incident to the Director of Operations and Programs and/or any member of the Board.  Whether they have directly observed harassing conduct or have received a report of it, the Director of Operations and Programs and any member of the Board are required to promptly refer such observations or reports about suspected harassment in writing to the Corporation’s President who has the responsibility to investigate. The President will advise the Board of Directors of the investigation and its resolution.

B.   NO RETALIATION. The Corporation will not retaliate in any way against an individual who makes a report of harassment or any individual who participates in a harassment investigation; nor will the Corporation permit any employee, Board member or volunteer to do so. Anyone who feels that they have been subjected to any acts of retaliation should immediately report such conduct to Director of Operations and Programs or any member of the Board. Any person who retaliates against another individual for reporting any perceived acts of harassment will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or volunteer service.

C.   INVESTIGATION. The Corporation will promptly investigate all allegations of harassment, regardless of how they were discovered. The Corporation will act on all information it receives if it believes an individual may be engaging in wrongful conduct or violating the law. The Corporation’s investigation may include individual interviews with parties involved and, when necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have other relevant knowledge.

D.   VIOLATIONS. If the Corporation finds that there is a basis for the complaint, the Corporation, in its sole discretion, shall take the appropriate remedial action, including but not limited to (i) a verbal or written reprimand, (ii) referral to appropriate training or counseling, (iii) withholding of a promotion or bonus, (iv) reassignment, (v) temporary suspension without pay, (vi) termination and/or dismissal from volunteer service. The Corporation shall advise the complainant and the alleged offender of the decision. The Corporation shall also advise the complainant of the remedial action taken against the alleged offender.

E.   FALSE ACCUSATIONS.   If an investigation results in a finding that an employee or volunteer knowingly falsely accused another person of harassment, the employee or volunteer may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or dismissal from volunteer service.

Whistleblower Protection Policy

The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry (referred to herein as the “Corporation”) requires directors, officers, employees and volunteers to observe high standards of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities. All employees, volunteers and representatives of the Corporation must maintain its code of ethics which requires honesty, truthfulness, respect for others, accountability for the use of Corporation assets and for one’s behavior in fulfilling Corporate responsibilities and complying with all Corporate policies and applicable laws and regulations.

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

A.     REPORTING. This Whistle Blower Policy is intended to encourage and enable employees and volunteers to raise serious concerns internally so that the Corporation can address and correct inappropriate conduct and actions. The Corporation has an open-door policy to enable employees, Board members and volunteers to raise questions, concerns, suggestions or complaints with the Director of Operations and Programs or members of the Board. It is the responsibility of all Board Members, officers, employees and volunteers to report concerns about violations of the Corporation’s code of ethics or suspected violations of law or regulations that govern the Corporation’s operations. Employees and volunteers may submit their complaints or concerns in writing directly to the Director of Operations and Programs  or any member of the Board.

B.     NO RETALIATION.  It is contrary to the values of the Corporation for anyone to retaliate against any individual who in good faith reports an ethics violation, or a suspected violation of law, such as a complaint of discrimination, or suspected fraud, or suspected violation of any regulation governing the operations of the Corporation. An employee or volunteer who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment or dismissal from volunteer service.

C.     INVESTIGATION.  The Director of Operations and Progams and members of the Board are required to promptly report complaints or concerns about suspected ethical and legal violations in writing to the Corporation’s President, who has the responsibility to investigate all reported complaints or concerns.  The Corporation will act on all information it receives if it believes an individual may be engaging in wrongful conduct or violating the law. The Corporation’s investigation may include individual interviews with parties involved and, when necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have other relevant knowledge.  The President will advise the Board of Directors of all complaints and concerns and their resolution.

D.    VIOLATIONS.   If the Corporation finds that there is a basis for the complaint, the Corporation, in its sole discretion, shall take the appropriate remedial action, including but not limited to (i) a verbal or written reprimand, (ii) referral to appropriate training or counseling, (iii) withholding of a promotion or bonus, (iv) reassignment, (v) temporary suspension without pay, (vi) termination and/or dismissal from volunteer service. The Corporation shall advise the complainant and the alleged offender of the decision. The Corporation shall also advise the complainant of the remedial action taken against the alleged offender. If an investigation results in a finding that an employee or volunteer knowingly falsely accused another person of inappropriate conduct, the employee or volunteer may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or volunteer service

ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING MATTERS. The Corporation’s President shall immediately notify the Treasurer of any concerns or complaint regarding corporate accounting practices, internal controls or auditing and work with the Treasurer until the matter is resolved.