Where’s a food bank near me?
If you’re asking yourself that question, we’re here to help. Food banks are typically a locally- or regionally-operated organization that helps provide food to people that are struggling with food security.
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While they vary in their operation, what they offer, and their eligibility requirements, we can help provide you some basic information on how to answer the question: Where’s a food bank near me?
In this article, we’ll discuss a bit about what a food bank is, how they operate, what resources you be able to receive from one, and answer how to find a food bank near me.
What is a Food Bank?
A food bank is typically a non-profit organization that helps provide food to hundreds or thousands of people in a town city, or region.
Food banks collect, store and distribute thousands or even millions of pounds of foods to charitable organizations — including food pantries, Meals on Wheels programs, or others — that ultimately distribute food to people. These facilities can be of all different sizes, ranging from small buildings to industrial-scale operations. There are hundreds of food banks around the United States collecting food from communities, businesses, churches, and other non-profit groups.
Food banks a key component in the supply chain of sourcing, storing, and delivering food to the people that need it most. One of the largest food bank operators in the United States is the Feeding America network, a non-profit that helps manage more than 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries around the country. In 2020, the Feeding America network distributed more than 3.6 billion meals to people in the U.S.
Why do Food Banks exist?
Unfortunately, food insecurity is a serious problem in the United States. Food insecurity refers to a person or family that doesn’t know where or when they’ll find their next meal.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Household Food Insecurity in the United States report found that more than 35 million people in the United States experienced hunger in 2019. With the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 42 million people faced food insecurity, including a potential 13 million children.
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Food insecurity carries serious related detriments to people and families. For an individual, food insecurity places housing, job opportunities, and health concerns on the backburner. For children, food insecurity can lead to learning challenges, poor health, developmental risks, and behavior problems.
In short, food banks exist to fulfill a significant need in the U.S. They serve as charitable hubs in their communities and regions to ensure that people can secure a healthy meal.
Services at a Food Bank
Think of food banks as distribution hubs like a warehouse. Rather than working directly with individuals, they work at a broader level to ensure that charities in different communities can regularly provide food to individuals and families.
As such, you may not be able to directly walk into a food bank to receive food. Food banks, however, will likely be able to connect you with one of their partners to receive food or enter a meal program.
Food banks engage in four primary services: Securing food, shipping and storing food, distributing food, and supporting their partners and the people they serve.
With securing food, organizations will source food donations from national grocery stores, retailers, food producers, farmers, and government organizations. Food banks then will serve as storing facilities while organizations determine a community’s need.
Food banks then distribute the food to pantries that will serve it to individuals, families, children, and seniors. Lastly, food banks support programs that enable greater food security in communities and work to educate people on the immense challenge of food insecurity in the U.S.
Food banks and pantries offer food for free without the expectation of payment and keep their recipients’ information confidential.
Find a Food Bank Near Me
How can I find a food bank near me? If you’re seeking the answer to that question, know that there are many organizations and people that are able to help you and or your family.
A great first step is to check out this search tool from the Feed America network. Follow this link and simply type in your zip code or choose your state to find the nearest food bank to you. The Feeding America network helps operate more than 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries, and in 2020, helped serve billions of meals to people that need it.
Another avenue is a simple Internet search of “your city” + “food bank.” Click into each organization to see if there are income requirements or if you need to provide any information. You can also seek out your city or county’s health and human services department’s website, which may have resources for food banks or food security programs.
Lastly, The United Way is a national, non-profit organization that helps people overcome food insecurity. The United Way has hundreds of chapters around the United States and helps tens of thousands of people each year by connecting them with food resources in their city.
Other Programs that Can Help
There are a variety of federal programs that can help you secure your next meal and put you on the path toward food security. Below is a bit of information on a few of those programs.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the largest federal program helping provide people food and offers benefits to low-income Americans to buy groceries. Each year there are about 9.5 million families with children that use the SNAP program. To be eligible, applicants must live in the state in which they apply and meet certain income limits that vary by household size. Learn about the program here.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program
The Child and Adult Care Food Program provide reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at child care centers, daycare homes, and adult daycare centers. You can learn more about the program here.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides food assistance for low-income seniors with a monthly package of foodstuff. About 676,000 people participated in the program in 2018. To be eligible, you must be of low income and older than 60 years of age. You can learn more about the program here.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
The Emergency Food Assistance Program offers food at no cost to Americans in need of short-term hunger relief through shelters, soup kitchens, emergency food pantries, and food banks. Check out the program here.
Food insecurity is a serious issue. If you’re concerned about where to find your next meal or your family’s next meal, a food bank can help in times of crisis and can help set you on the path toward a food secure future.
We hope through this article you’ve learned more about what a food bank is, how they operate, what resources you be able to receive from one, other helpful resources, and answered how to find a food bank near me.