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Food Bank and Food Pantry Info

Updated on September 25, 2011

What is a Food Bank?

Food banks are huge corporations that obtain food from either the federal government, through programs like The Food Assistance Program (TFAP), or from overrages of food from traditional retailers and their suppliers.

What is a Food Pantry?

Food banks actually provide food supplies to food pantries, who in turn, provide food assistance to low income families and individuals.

Well....I take take back that last part - actually, most food pantry programs do not look at your income when you go to them for help; and when they do, the income guidelines are not nearly as strict as other, more substantial nutrition assistance programs like the Food Stamps or SNAP.

Where Does the Food Come From?

Sometimes, local organizations will get their supplies from public donations, then they turn around and act as food pantries by distributing the food to the public. In this case, the two program names are synonymous.

No matter how the food is distributed, food banks provide a vital service to low income families.

In a bad economy, their services can go well beyond emergency services, sometimes it comes down to on-going monthly aid.

What Kind of Food is Available?

The food will vary greatly from location to location.

Because most of the available food comes from overages and donations, there is really no way to know what you might get from day to day.

You can probably safely expect perishible items like canned vegetables, canned meats, dried foods - like, beans, potatoes, etc., pasta, canned soups, box soups, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

The purpose of this particular type of food assistance is to keep you and your family nourished on a temporary basis until you can supply your own food.

If you need a more substantial type of help, you should probably apply for the Food Stamp/SNAP program.

How to Get Help

Normally, there really isn't an "application process" to get food assistance from a food pantry.

The organizations provide specific times and days when the food is available, and you just show up at the designated time.

It is a good idea to bring identification, proof of your address - like a utility bill, rent receipt, lease, etc.,and proof of income - like a paycheck stub, SSI payment info, or TANF eligibilty letter, etc. In all cases,it is a good idea to be prepared in case they ask you for these documents.

Get Help Now

Feeding America is a gigantic organization that runs the Second Harvest program, Second Harvest operates food pantries/banks across america.

Click the link below to find a program near you:

Feeding America/Second Harvest Food Bank Locator

Also, many local churches operate food pantries, so it is a good idea to locate the churches in your area and contact them to find out if they participate.

Remember, nutrition assistance is available almost everywhere in the country, do not be too proud to ask for help if you need it.

Have You Ever Utilized the Services of a Food Bank?

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