Everyday, thousands of Americans simply don’t have enough food to feed their family and their children. Most turn to government assistance, such as WIC and food stamps, for support. However, not all needy families qualify and some may not receive enough food stamps. In that case, they turn to local food banks and food pantries for help with food. The donations they receive can truly make a difference.
Most cities and large towns have a local food bank. They also have food pantries offered at various churches and social service agencies. If you are wanting to donate food, you might be wondering if you should donate food to the food bank or to the food pantry.
Either way, you will be helping a hungry individual or family. Whether you donate to a food bank, or to a local church or agency food pantry, you will be helping someone meet a basic need.
However, if you are wanting your donation to be the most efficient, to “get more out of it”, I highly recommend donating to food pantries instead of food banks.
The reason? If you donate food to the food pantry, no one will have to pay for the food to be stored at the bank,and to be packaged up in a food box, For example, the South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock, TX offers a food voucher program to receive a box of food. In the early 2000’s, it cost churches and social service agencies in Lubbock $5.00 to give a needy person a food voucher, so they could pick up a box of food at the food bank. (I believe the fee has probably increased since then, but even if it is still $5.00 it is still a fee that can add up.)
Most food banks, such as the South Plains Food Bank, actually sell the food that has been donated. They don’t sell it to clients (people needing the food) but they sell it to food pantries, churches that have soup kitchens etc. I believe the fee was about 10 cents a can back in 2002, possibly more. So, when someone donated food to the food bank, in many instances the food that was donated was either then sold at a low cost, or put in a food box, which cost agencies $5.00 per food box. (And, to be truthful, if you add the cost of all of the food together it really wasn’t that much, $5.00 was a very expensive fee.)
However, if you donate food to local food pantries, the food is given directly to people in need. Many food pantries are run mostly by volunteers from the church. Therefore, no one is having to pay for the food to be distributed. Usually the church already has room for the food to be stored, and there are little to no extra fees for the food. Most food pantries have to buy food from the food bank, so it makes alot more sense to just donate the food directly.
Another reason why I feel you should donate food to food pantries instead of food banks is because I feel that funds are used more wisely. If you visit Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), you can research agencies and see how they use their money. One thing that is interesting is to see the salaries of Food Bank CEO’s. For example, Kendall Hanna, the executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank earns $104,156. Anne Goodman, the Executive Director of the Cleveland, OH food bank earns $133,197 per year. Jilly Stephens, the executive director of City Harvest which helps the hungry of New York City, earns $216,700 each year. Deborah Flateman, the CEO of Maryland Food Bank earns $159,610.
if you donate food to food pantries and local churches, there is no executive director earning thousands and thousands of dollars a year (paid for in donations and grants). Food pantries are usually run by volunteers, or part time church staff.
In conclusion, whether you donate to a food pantry or to a food bank, you will be helping a family in need. If you doante to a food pantry, there will not be as much expense in bringing the food to a needy person. If you have to choose, please donate to a local food pantry. If you go to church, ask if there is a food pantry at your local church. If not, call 211 – read this article – to find a local food pantry to donate to. Another idea is to donate food directly to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other social service agencies.
Thank-you for taking the time to help someone in need! Every donation will make a difference!