How to Volunteer To Deliver Groceries to Seniors

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For some seniors, a trip to the grocery store or just going to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions can be incredibly challenging. No one can go without food, and seniors need to get groceries in their home so they can eat – just like everyone else – but when walking around the grocery store is just more than someone can bare how can they get those groceries?

How to Volunteer To Deliver Groceries to Seniors

The last 18 months, or so, has just added challenges to a senior getting groceries that they never had before: wearing a mask, making sure to wipe down the cart and handles before you touch them and seniors are just at a higher risk of getting sick to begin with.

Thankfully, there are a number of organizations and companies where the purpose is to get groceries and necessities to seniors – now and going forward. If you are healthy and able to take on some extra work at this time, this is a great way to get involved in your community and give back to those who need your help.


This is a really neat service that matches volunteers with seniors in need in their community. The seniors are 60 years and older who need help with getting essentials into their home, but with minimal or no-contact.

During COVID-19 this service has waived its fees for urgent and essential tasks to make sure more seniors can get what they need, even those who may not regularly be able to pay the membership cost.

When you sign up to volunteer, you will see a list of opportunities in your area for those who are in need. You will be given a list of what each person needs at the store when you choose an opportunity to pursue.

woman delivering grocery

All deliveries with this service are contactless, so you will put the items and/or groceries on the front steps or porch (or other designated spot as per the client) and either ring the doorbell or give them a call to let them know their order is here.

After you complete the delivery, you will be responsible for uploading the receipt. Now initially you will pay for the goods that each person needs, but Umbrella will reimburse you for whatever you purchase.

The cost to seniors, at this time, is $10 plus the cost of whatever they order. Volunteers are encouraged to only apply to volunteer if they are not in a more vulnerable age group, and have not been traveling within the last 14 days so they can minimize the risk to others while volunteering


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Better-At-Home by United Way

This program may not be available everywhere that United Way is, but it’s pretty common in bigger cities. For this program, the volunteers can either do the shopping or the delivering. If they are shoppers, the volunteer must be able to pay ahead of time for groceries (usually up to $75 or $100) and then they will be reimbursed.

Once the groceries are purchased, those volunteers are responsible for getting them to a delivery hub and from there other volunteers will deliver them to the seniors who need them. They do it this way so that they can be efficient with their deliveries and make sure there aren’t a bunch of volunteers all going to the same area or even apartment building when they can have just one person making those drop offs.

grocery basket

In order to volunteer with this program there are a few requirements. First, every volunteer must have successful clearance on a criminal record check (on an ongoing basis) and have references that a volunteer coordinator can check.

Additionally, they must respect confidentiality in that they cannot discuss who they are shopping for with others (even if they personally know the person), along with a flexible schedule to be able to do the shopping when it’s needed.

To be reimbursed in this program it’s a little different than the umbrella program. Each volunteer will hang onto the receipts of the shopping they do and submit them on a bi-weekly basis. Now a program like Umbrella asks that you upload each receipt after you have successfully delivered each order.

However with this one it could be two weeks before you are reimbursed, so it means you will need to have a little extra cash sitting around or room on your credit card to make sure you can front the amount for purchase until you are reimbursed.

Volunteers with this program will also need to track and log their volunteer hours on a monthly basis and submit them to the coordinator of the program. The records submitted must have a number of hours and the dates you volunteered with the program.

Meals on Wheels

While this service isn’t exactly groceries, but they do need volunteers to help get meals to seniors in need. This service cooks meals for seniors so that they can easily reheat them when they are hungry, and it is more geared towards seniors who may not be able to cook for themselves as much or have trouble with meal preparation.

cook meal delivery

This kind of volunteering will require you to pick from a central location (likely where all the meals are prepared) and they will give you the orders for the area that you’re assigned to deliver to.

This volunteer opportunity is a little more structured in that they have designated delivery dates and times, so you will likely have to make sure you are available at the same time every week if you’re going to volunteer.

Like the other volunteer opportunities, you will need to have a criminal background check and make sure you are clear to volunteer. If this is something that interests you, contact your local chapter of Meals on Wheels to see what kind of help they need and if you are able to help them out. See other Meal Delivery Service Providers for seniors. 


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Store to Door

This organization is geared towards seniors and people with disabilities who may be on a fixed income and still need help with getting their groceries. This service is low-cost and volunteer based it’s an option for almost anyone, and clients do not have to worry about membership fees or cost issues.

It also provides personalized services so clients can order exactly what they want. The cost of this will be the cost of whatever is ordered from the store plus a small delivery fee.

Local Pharmacy

Do you have a small local pharmacy that fills prescriptions for seniors? If so, they may need some help with deliveries and getting essentials to their senior customers who just cannot get out on their own to pick them up.

Prescription refill

There could be some regulations around which medications can be delivered by a volunteer, but other items that are not prescription could still be needed. Items like over-the-counter medications and personal toiletries are also often needed by seniors who have troubles getting around.

If there is a small, independent pharmacy in your area or city that you think you want to volunteer with, reach out to them and see if they need any help. They may have a company vehicle you can use as well, so this could be helpful if you don’t have your own vehicle but have a license to drive.


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Ask Around You to People You Know

Outside of organizations, you may know a few seniors in your life that just need some extra help getting groceries and personal necessities. Now since this isn’t going through a charitable organization, some people who don’t know you may be hesitant to trust you with their money or their groceries, but if it’s people you’ve known for a long time they may be more open to your help.

buying essentials from pharmacy

In this case, you will be able to kind of fit it into your schedule as you can since you don’t have to dedicate specific hours each week to volunteering. The one thing to keep in mind is that these seniors are trusting you with their needs and potentially their money, so it’s important that you are not taking advantage of someone being in a vulnerable position.

Volunteering to help seniors in your community is a great way to give back to people who really need your help, and are stuck at home without any real way to get food or personal items.

By researching just a little bit and reaching out to local organizations, you can find an opportunity that works for you and your schedule. You will probably need to have a criminal background check for any non-profit or registered charities just to make sure they know who they are working with (it’s very common with any kind of volunteering).

If you have the time to volunteer now, and want to find ways to give back, delivering groceries to seniors who have mobility issues will ensure they are able to eat and take care of themselves. Give a little something to those who have given a lot to us over the years, and deliver groceries to seniors in your community.