How Food Banks Work

What Can You Do to Help Your Local Food Bank?

Food banks and food-related charities need money, food and manpower to operate. You can help by donating money to a national food bank like Feeding America, or give to a regional food bank in your area. Supporting businesses that donate to food banks or conduct regular food drives is another way you can show your support for food related charities.

Around the holidays, news clips of concerned citizens manning the food lines at local soup kitchens or area missions are popular fare, but the fact is that food banks need help all year long. They also need talented people who can run a forklift, keep the accounting books, build a Web site or perform strategic planning tasks. If you have a special skill and are willing to volunteer, your unique contribution will help your local or regional free-food distribution system work more effectively.

If you can't volunteer your time and expertise, you can still do important work to help a local food bank. If there are no ongoing food drives where you work, worship or play, consider starting one. Some food banks make it easy to institute a food drive program by providing drop-off bins and even project kits with great ideas to get you started.

If you can't volunteer and don't have the time to start a food drive, you can still do lots of things to help your food bank help others:

  • Discuss hunger with your family so they can help increase awareness among their circle of friends.
  • Host a party, and after you enjoy a hearty, home-cooked meal, take up a collection to help hungry families.
  • Assemble a box of emergency food for your family and keep it in a safe, dry location. While you're at it, make up a box to donate, too.
  • Try to feed each member of your family on $4.45 a day. That's how much money the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp program) offers the needy for a day's worth of food. Discuss the results with your friends and co-workers. Start a blog of your experience to spread the word about hunger in America.

Donate food to your local food bank, too. These items are always in demand:

  • shelf-stable milk
  • paper products
  • cleaning supplies
  • juice boxes
  • peanut butter
  • canned vegetables, fruit and tuna
  • canned stew, soups (especially those containing meat)
  • boxed cereal
  • oatmeal
  • beans
  • baby food
  • infant formula

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