School Food Pantry Program

A school food pantry is a food pantry located inside or close to a school. School pantries provide free food for students and their families. They work with food banks, community partners, and school administrators . 

What kind of food can you get from a school pantry? 

School pantries keep families’ needs in mind. School pantries may distribute food through: 

  • Pre-packed boxes or bags 
  • Drive-thru pantries 
  • Farmer’s market-style pickups 
  • In-person shopping where students and families pick what they want 


School pantries usually have: 

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables 
  • Grains like bread, pasta, and rice 
  • Meat or protein options 
  • Canned food like beans and soup 
  • Pantry staples like jam or pasta sauce  

Who can go to a school pantry? 

School pantries serve families who need extra help affording groceries. They are not limited to students who receive free or reduced lunch. Some welcome all students in their district even if they don’t attend that school. Some also welcome neighbors in the community, even if they don’t have children at the school. 

When are school pantries open? 

Many school pantries are open on specific days and times. They are generally open at least once a month. Others are open once a week or as needed for families to stop in. School pantries may also operate during the summer when school is out. 

How do you find a school pantry? 

The Feeding America network operates nearly 4,000 school pantries across the country. Ask your school, school district, or your local food bank. 

How do you start a school pantry? 

If you want to start a pantry at your school, connect with your local food bank. They can help you understand how to set up your pantry, get food, and track your impact. 

What other kinds of programs can help? 

There are options for you and your family to find free food. Food programs like the weekend BackPack and summer meal programs may be available in your community.