We encourage co-op members to volunteer once or twice a year, if their schedules allow. Members can volunteer at either our sorting site in Gardner or their pickup site if help is needed there. Volunteering allows members to get a true sense of how Mass Local Food Cooperative works. When members volunteer at the sorting site, they have the opportunity to meet the farmers and producers—the sources and creators of the food and other goods we list.
When volunteers arrive at the Gardner sorting site, our volunteer coordinator, Mae Zagami, will explain the tasks at hand. Here’s a general description of the kinds of things sorting site and other Distribution Day volunteers do.
When each producer arrives, s/he reports to a check-in table where s/he and a volunteer check in every item on the producer’s order. Each item arrives labeled with the customer’s name, member number, pickup site location, and product name and number. Our producer check-in lists are organized into categories (Frozen items, Refrigerated items, and Non-refrigerated items), which are then organized by pickup site. The volunteer checks off items on the list as the producer reads aloud the label information on the items themselves.
The sorting tables, which are organized by pickup site location, have all the customer invoices arranged side by side in order by member number. Standard coolers for refrigerated items are stored beneath the tables. Each cooler is labeled with a pickup site location and number (1-2-3 etc) if there is more than one.
As soon as items are delivered and checked in, sorting volunteers take the items to the sorting area and match the label information to the customer invoices. They checkmark each item on the invoice as it is added to the customer’s order.
Volunteers collect non-refrigerated items in each customer’s designated area. Frozen items and items that require regular refrigeration go into Extreme coolers and conventional coolers respectively. On the customer invoices, the volunteers use a precise system of marking to indicate which coolers contain those items. (The site organizer explains the system during volunteer orientation.) Our volunteers at the pickup sites depend on the sorting volunteers to clearly mark the location of cooler items in this way, because it expedites the final delivery of orders to our customers.
The pickup site drivers double-check the goods that have been sorted into each customer’s order against the customer’s invoice. In addition to checking non-refrigerated items gathered on the tables, the drivers make sure that all the frozen and refrigerated items are in the coolers marked with their pickup site’s location. This process is a crucial step that helps prevent the possibility of an item either getting left behind at the sorting site or delivered to the wrong pickup site.
Pickup Site Tasks
Pickup site volunteers greet customers, help them collect their order items from the coolers and other delivery containers, and make sure their orders are complete. Customers pay for their goods by check.
If you are interested in organizing a pickup site in your area, contact us and we will send you the information you need. Please be sure to write Pickup Site Info Request in the subject line so we know where to direct your e-mail.