Volunteer at Cornucopia

"Waysmeet has given myself and others a chance to have food that we are able to eat. One of the greatest things is they treat all their clients with dignity. I am extremely grateful. And if I am living like this, others are living like this. Please help us if you can."
-Cornucopia Patron

photo of student volunteers

We are always in need of volunteers and any contribution is greatly appreciated and welcome. Use the information on this page to help you get started with ideas. Should you ever have any questions please feel free to email Cornucopia at the Waysmeet Center at any time.

Ways to Help

There are a number of ways volunteers help out at Cornucopia. Below is a list of some of the things we would like folks to help out with, but feel free to come up with your own as well. We welcome all volunteers and appreciate even five minutes of your time to help out our cause.

  • We need a core of people to staff the pantry when it is open, for 1-2 hour shifts, on Tuesday afternoons during the summer and Tuesday and/or Friday afternoons during the academic year.
  • We need help producing and distributing Gift Baskets three times a year: Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, and Earth Day during the spring (see below). We encourage you to make one or more baskets with your class, office, department, dorm floor, team, etc.; we can give you specific food items for each holiday, and you can personalize them from there!
  • We greatly appreciate food donations, even picking up a few items whenever you go shopping. Having folks buy meats, eggs, dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables, paper products, and health products is particularly appealing, as we always have a need for these items and they are more expensive for us to get.
  • We need folks to periodically do shopping for the pantry at the NH Food Bank in Manchester.
  • We need help with arranging for surplus food from local farms, and other venues for our growing Food Rescue Program.
  • We greatly appreciate folks organizing a food drive in their class, department, residence hall, apartment, etc., especially for the items we need at any given time (see above).
  • We need volunteers for our monthly Drum Circle Dinners, where we share a meal as a community followed by a drum circle, on the first Friday of every month.
  • We need help maintaining and harvesting our Waysmeet gardens and getting them prepared for winter.
  • We appreciate any help with cleaning, checking inventory, and periodically moving food.
  • We need help with our growing Food Rescue Operations (see below).

This is just a sampling of the ways that people can help out at Cornucopia. We appreciate every minute of volunteered time and effort, and we encourage anyone interested in helping out to contact us to learn about what we are doing and how you can help!

Food Recovery/Rescue Volunteers

The mission of food rescue is to feed people and save surplus perishable food from being needlessly wasted. 40% of food is wasted in America alone! Food rescue turns millions of dollars of rescued food into countless meals for children and families in need. By educating, advocating, and volunteering, we can continue to save and distribute perishable food that would otherwise be wasted.

The Cornucopia Food pantry is active in growing its Food Rescue/Food Recovery programs. Food Rescue (also called Food Recovery) is the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to those in need. The recovered food is edible, but often not salable. Products that are at or past their "sell by" dates, or are imperfect in any way, such as a bruised apple or day-old bread, are donated by grocery stores, food vendors, restaurants, and farmers markets. Other times, the food is unblemished, but restaurants may have made or ordered too much, or may have edible pieces of food (such as scraps of fish or meat) that are byproducts of the process of preparing foods to cook and serve. In addition, food manufacturers may donate product that marginally fails quality control or that has become short-dated.

The Cornucopia Food pantry is proud to be expanding our food rescue operations, and is very grateful to the following local businesses for their generosity in helping Cornucopia offer its services to those in need within our local communities:

  • Trader Joe's market
  • Hannaford Supermarkets
  • Bagel Works (Durham Shopping Plaza)
  • When Pigs Fly Bakery
  • Durham Marketplace
  • The Beach Pea Co.

We are perpetually in need of volunteers to help with this aspect of our operation. Please contact us to learn about how to help out this very important aspect of our mission.

Cornucopia Food Basket Project

photo of holiday food basket

Dare to Care, Be Willing to Share

Every Thanksgiving, Winter Holiday, and Earth Day (April), Cornucopia, along with volunteers from the United Campus Ministry, the Thompson School of Applied Science (TSAS) Community Leadership (CoLead) Program, and the Office of Community Service and Learning holds holiday basket drives. During these drives we invite you and/or your office, group, organization, or family to put together a basket of food and fun for individuals or a family in our local community.

Our demand increases even as cutbacks to SNAP (food stamps) occur, incomes are reduced or lost entirely, costs for basic needs go up, and donations to the NH Food Bank and local food pantries do not keep pace with the demand and the need. Currently, changes in our employment structures, increasing costs for students, pressures on our international students, and a variety of other factors are making it difficult for some of our community members to make ends meet.

Based on past experiences, we expect as many as 350 requests for baskets from UNH students, staff, contract employees, and their families each year. We need your help to service all of our local folks in need. To get you started, we provide a suggested items list/submission form for fall and winter and a suggested items list/submission form for spring, as well as specific information on where and when to drop off your basket. You or your group may also choose to make a financial donation toward the creation of a basket. We calculate that each basket costs approximately $60-$80 to create. We appreciate any help with this worthy cause as we work to provide relief to the struggling families in our area during the holidays.

You may also donate your time by helping to prepare and distribute food baskets; please email the Waysmeet Center for more information.