A food bank is a non-profit organization that collects and distributes food to hunger relief charities. Food banks act as food storage and distribution depots for smaller front line agencies; and usually do not themselves give out food directly to people struggling with hunger.
Food usually comes from various sources in the food industry, like grocery stores and wholesalers that have thousands of pounds of food to give away - food that could otherwise be thrown away.
Food banks are found in most larger communities and rely on donors and volunteers to carry out day-to-day operations. Food banks in the U.S. are very diverse -- from small operations serving people spread out across large rural areas to very large facilities that store and distribute many millions of pounds of food each year, and everything in between. A variety of factors impact how food banks work, from the size of the facility to the number of active volunteers and donors.
Food banks are more than just food distribution centers. They are community leaders in helping people in their area struggling to make ends meet. From activiating elected officials to protect programs to examining root causes of poverty, food banks create tailored, responsive programs for agencies, clients, volunteers and donors. Many factors can go into why a person needs food assistance and the food bank is there to help people in need.
A food bank is the storehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. A food pantry functions as the arms that reach out to that community directly. Some utilize mobile food pantries, which reach people in areas of high need.
You can connect with your local food bank and get involved with hunger in your community.