What Do Food Banks Do?
Food banks have existed for a long time. They have become an integral part of society, supporting struggling children and families in times of crisis. However, people still do not fully understand what food banks are.
This article will talk about food banks, define these projects, and help you understand how they operate.
What Are Food Banks?
A food bank is a distribution facility that stores, repackages, and distributes contributed or donated food to various member organizations. They generally act as storage and distribution depots that often rely on other agencies to give food to people or communities struggling with hunger.
Food banks can range from large warehouses capable of storing millions of pounds of food to more minor operations with simple facilities found across many rural areas.
Food banks are sometimes referred to as food pantries, but they are not the same. Food pantries are operations that reach out to specific communities directly. They often get supplies from food banks which they’ll then take to people in areas that are in desperate need of them.
Where Does the Food Come From?
Food banks rely heavily on donations from individuals, schools, churches, businesses, and industries. There are two primary ways food banks secure food:
- Large Donations: These are food donated or solicited from large organizations like big businesses, manufacturing companies, philanthropists, and non-profit organizations. These donations generally come in surplus food donated in large quantities.
- Simple Donations: These are food provided by small-to-medium enterprises, faith-based charities, local government, and other food banks with excess supplies. This foodbank donation also comes from individual walk-ins and food drives.
In some cases, food banks may purchase goods using monetary donations from various individuals, businesses, and local authorities.
How Is Food Distributed?
The majority of the food banks can only offer food for an organization that has been referred. That is to prevent groups or organizations from over-subscribing and ensure enough supply for communities that need it.
The distribution process for food banks goes like this:
- The food bank receives donations: The first step is accepting contributions from various sources.
- Donated food is sorted and stored: The food bank’s staff and volunteers go through the donations, double-check their quality, and ensure they are up to date. The donated food is then stored and prepared for distribution.
- People and communities are identified: Food banks generally work with professionals like doctors, social workers, and even local enforcement to correctly identify which communities are in dire need of food.
- Food is finally distributed: Organizations and partner clients visit food bank centres and redeem at least three days’ worth of emergency food. These organizations and their volunteers will now hand over the food to the community that needs it.
For most food banks, there are at least one or two salaried staff members, but the majority of the work heavily relies on volunteers.
What Kind of Foods Are Handed Out?
Food banks provide nutritionally balanced and non-perishable food that can last for three days. Big food banks worked with nutritionists and other health professionals to ensure that each food parcel contained sufficient nutrition.
In a typical food parcel, you can expect to find the following:
- Pasta sauce
- Tea or coffee
- Breakfast cereals
- Tinned goods (beans, meat, vegetables, and fruits)
Most food banks can adapt food parcels to meet the community’s dietary needs. For example, they can provide vegetarian, halal, and gluten-free options.
Food banks not only give out food but various household supplies as well. Toiletries, washing powders, and baby supplies are also handed out. The supplies typically last somewhere between three to seven days.
Why Food Banks Are Important
When resources are tight and families are finding it hard to make ends meet, food banks are there to help those in desperate need of food. With the economic and social effects caused by the pandemic, food banks are needed more than ever.
Most importantly, donations and volunteers are also needed to continue our mission to save people from hunger.
I am a philanthropist and food bank volunteer with a passion for helping families living in poverty. Visit my website to know more about my story, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions.