Food Bank Delivery Programs Expand to Meet Community Needs

A box of fresh food from the South Michigan Food Bank
May 16, 2022
by Anna Vogel

Over the past few years, grocery delivery programs have helped many people access food safely by breaking down barriers including transportation, mobility issues and more. 

Our neighbors with limited income often face these challenges, too. With this in mind, many food banks have developed and expanded their own delivery programs. 

Food bank delivery programs helped our neighbors facing hunger access food safely during the pandemic, and continue to ensure people who can’t get out of their homes can still receive the groceries they need. Check out a few examples below. 

Delivering cooking and nutrition education in South Jersey

A student shows off her food, created with a meal kit from the Food Bank of South Jersey.
A student shows off their food, created with a meal kit from the Food Bank of South Jersey.

At the Food Bank of South Jersey, when cooking classes that were typically held at local schools needed to transition into an online format, the food bank faced another problem: how would the participants get the food they needed to make the recipes?

So, the food bank began contactless delivery of the meal kits participants would need for class.

The food deliveries meant more than just dropping off boxes of food- it was an opportunity for their neighbors to learn how to make something new and healthy. 

“By providing the meal kit, it gives [our neighbors] an opportunity to try new food as a family together,” said Tricia Yeo, senior manager of the health and wellness department at the food bank. “People really, really appreciate getting that bag of food delivered to their front door.” 

Breaking down barriers to accessing diet specific foods 

In 2021, the South Michigan Food Bank launched a program called the Fresh Food Pharmacy with the help of several community partners. The program is designed to make healthy food accessible for neighbors with chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease. 

In addition to receiving a box of food twice a month, the program also includes health coaching, basic kitchen supplies and recipes. This is especially helpful during the frigid Michigan winters, when weather may otherwise keep people at home. 

“We’re trying to take the concept [of meal kit delivery services] and give folks the tools to make eating healthy easy,” said Amanda Feighner, a registered dietitian, who runs the program. 
The program has seen great success expanding from just one participant when it launched to over 200 enrolled in February 2022. 

Feeding culture and connection

Kosher food on the shelves at a pantry in Cleveland.
Kosher food to be distributed by the Cleveland Chesed Center.

The Cleveland Chesed Center food bank knows that food is an essential part of many holiday celebrations- though buying the correct foods can stretch an already tight budget. Two of their partner pantries distribute Kosher foods for their Jewish neighbors and additional items such as candles and menorahs.

And when the pandemic kept community members who would typically have visited the food pantry at home, they started delivering these foods throughout the Cleveland area.

The delivery program helped homebound seniors to still celebrate the holidays despite not being able to leave their homes. “During COVID times when homebound seniors receive these packages, this is often the only touch of Jewish celebration they might get,” said Devorah Alevsky, the director of the food pantry.