Food banks and free pantries.
Local food banks and pantries are a great place to turn to for free food, groceries, and other forms of non-financial support. Millions of individuals and families are struggling with feeding their families on a consistent basis. While maybe in some months most people are fine, there can be other periods of time due to an unexpected bill or reduction in income that can make it more challenging. In an emergency, a free food pantry may be able to help.
Many low to moderate income families also struggle to keep food on their tables due to the escalating cost of basic items as well as the weak economy. Tens of millions of people receive some type of food assistance from these centers every year. The agencies help feed the working poor, families living in poverty, as well as even moderate income households. Never hesitate to ask or stop by a location as the goal is to reduce or prevent hunger. Information is provided below on food banks and distribution centers that are located in your state.
Food pantries are run by a wide range of organizations. There can be centers located at local charities, non-profits, and even government affiliated agencies. For example, many churches will have a food pantry or soup kitchen on site. Organizations like the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities may run a center at their local branches. Even if a social service agency does not operate a free food pantry, they can usually refer the applicant to a location in their community.
Many of these locations also rely on government agencies and the generosity of the community at large to donate to them. They support them in the form of providing surplus government commodities. The contributions are used to help the pantries offer food and groceries to individuals and families in need.
The exact type of assistance offered to qualified individuals will depend on the food bank. Some will provide bread, vegetables, baby formula, frozen food, and perishables. Other centers may just have free canned goods and other basic groceries to applicants facing a crisis. They also try to also meet any dietary needs of children or senior citizens.
In addition, other forms of non-financial support may be offered. These tend to be more limited, but they are a possibility. Items such as clothes, personal hygiene items, Christmas and Thanksgiving meals, and diapers. An individual will just need to call the distribution center near them to get the specifics on the food assistance programs administered.
In addition to information on food banks and pantries, families have other places to turn to for help. As one focus will always be to prevent hunger, especially for children as well as the elderly. So if and when you are struggling, there are a number of resources available. Some of those options include:
Government food assistance programs – The federal government runs a large number of assistance programs for the low income as well as families living in poverty. There may also be help from state as well as county organizations. They are available across the nation. More on government food assistance programs.
Cheap and reduced price food – Organizations such as Gaballi, the Bread of Hope, and Angel Food Ministries provide food at up to 40% off the regular retail price. These services are available to anyone, regardless of their income, and there are no fees to use them. This allows families to save hundreds of dollars per year on their grocery bills. Read more on cheap groceries.
Free coupons - Companies will provide consumers with significant savings from coupons that can be printed right at home. They can be used to pay for not only food and groceries, but also personal care items, pet supplies, and beverages. These can be used at any retailer, or combined with the services from a food bank, to save families even more more. A site to print up free coupons is www.needhelppayingbillsdiscounts.com
Families looking for other options can find more information on free coupon deals. While they can’t be used at a pantry, many other types of groceries as well as household supplies can be bought using them. Using food banks and coupons is very effective.
Womens Infant Children - WIC – This in another popular government assistance program for low income individuals. Of particular emphasis is on ensuring newborns as well as pregnant mothers get the nutrition they need. Free or low cost baby formula, food items, and other nutritional support is available, often in the form of vouchers or debit cards. Read more on WIC - Women Infant Children program.
In every community, no matter the size of the town, county, or city, there will be a food bank near you. Many different agencies may be involved in feeding children, the poor, less fortunate, or struggling families. Government organizations as well as charities may help households facing an emergency, and they offer free groceries, meals, and more. Find a list of food pantries near you.
Food Stamps or TANF – Almost 40 million American receive some form of food vouchers from the federal government supported SNAP program. TANF can also be used to help pay for basic needs. The vouchers can provide the low income free and reduced cost food. More on TANF food stamps.
Clothing banks - Basic needs such as free holiday gifts, baby supplies, shoes, school supplies, work clothing and more may be provided. The items are given for free by clothing closets and distribution centers. While these locations will not usually have food, having the ability to acquire these other goods from the centers can help families free up their money for buying groceries. Find a listing of supplies from clothing banks.
Feeding America – A leading non-profit agency that works with food banks and other distribution centers in all 50 states. The organization provides groceries, perishable items, free boxes of food, and more to its regional partners. Those locations then work with pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other local charities or churches to serve low income families. Find Feeding America locations.
Free home delivery of meals - A number of food pantries offer this service. However it is usually only available for senior citizens or the disabled. Volunteers deliver food, groceries, hot meals, nutritional supplements, and other items. Read more on the Meals on Wheels home delivery service.
State food banks and pantries
The food banks you will find listed below in your state are just a sampling of the centers offered. In addition to the locations noted, you will find phone numbers and contact information for organizations that can direct you to a food bank or free pantry location that may be closer to your home. Also find information on other financial assistance programs.