Guest Author - Kim Lynch
If you or someone you know is unable to buy food, there is help available from organizations operating as food pantries, food closets, food cupboards and food banks. Whatever you call them, they are located in all 50 states and do a wonderful job of fighting hunger by providing food to those in need.
Most of the food they distribute is obtained through donations. These donation come from food processors, grocery stores, corporations and individuals. Some of the food is purchased using funds received through monetary donations.
Food pantries strive not only to help people meet their food needs, they also try to help people maintain their dignity by treating their clients with respect, as well as compassion.
They all have different methods of food distribution, some will simply provide a box of food that has been prepared ahead of time, others are setup like stores and will allow you to "shop" (with limits) for what you need. There are also pantries that require that you bring your own box or bag.
The majority of food banks are staffed by volunteers, who truly want to help. If you or a family member has food allergies or medical conditions, such as diabetes, that would prevent you from using certain foods provided in a pre-assembled box, don't be afraid to return food you can't use and explain why. Many pantries will provide you with an another item, so you will receive a full box. If they don't have an alternative, they will be able to distribute the food item to some who can use it.
Below are a list of sites that provide search services to help you locate food pantries. After selecting a pantry, consider giving them a call to find out their requirements, how the food is distributed and the hours of operation.
Tab browsing is the easiest way to view and open the links in this article. Simply right click on a link and select "open a new tab.". This will open the web page in a separate tab while keeping this page open. It's a great way to view multiple sites at once.
Has a database of over 10,000 food pantries. The search is quick and easy. It's a great resource.
A search by zip code or state will bring up a list of pantries. Register to receive updates whenever a new pantry is added in your area or to leave comments about your experience with a particular food pantry.
This site still seems to be growing. Their list of pantries is not as comprehensive as some of the other websites, but still very useful.
Their goal is to get fresh produce to food banks with the help of gardeners who donate their surplus. They have nearly 5,000 registered food banks participating in their program.
Global Food Banking Network
Hunger is a worldwide problem. This site provides links to food banks in the U.S, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Australia and portions of Africa and Asia.
Schools Fight Hunger
An organization dedicated to helping schools end childhood hunger. They offer a search tool for locating food banks.