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How to Get Help From a Food Bank

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021

A food bank is a non-profit organization. It helps people living in poverty, those affected by hunger, or disaster-stricken families. Food banks collect and distribute food to hunger relief charities. The emergency food quantity offered by food banks is estimated to last for three days. Food banks also act as a storage for food and distribution depots for smaller line agencies.

Food Banks

If you're planning to use a food bank, here are a few things you should know about them:

  1. No money should be paid while accessing the food.
  2. The food should be safe and fit for human consumption.
  3. Not everyone is allowed to access food from a food bank.
  4. Families that have been affected by poverty should be allowed to access food.
  5. The elderly should have the privilege of getting food from food banks.
  6. The food is mainly accessed by people who have faced a disaster.

Groups of People That Benefit From Food Banks

You're eligible for help if you fall into the following categories:

  1. Single people.  Those who are single are allowed to access food from food banks because they're not in a position to prepare their own meals. Instead of going hungry, food banks offer help. This works for both genders.
  2. Native Americans. High federal rates have affected Native Americans over the years. They require assistance to meet their daily needs. Food banks go a long way in sustaining them.
  3. Children. Because children can't work, they can't buy their own food. While those who are school-age have access to free meals during school hours, many are left with no place to eat at the end of the school day. For these reasons, children can access free food from food banks, helping them grow and maintain good health. 
  4. Old age. Those who are unable to work because of their advanced age may also find it difficult to go out and buy food. They're allowed to access food from food banks for free, enabling them to continue being healthy.
  5. People in rural communities. These are people who have been affected by a pandemic or a natural calamity while living in rural communities. The disasters prevent them from working and getting money to buy food. Because they can't buy their own food, they're allowed to get food from food banks.
  6. Poor families. Poverty keeps most families from being able to afford food. Food banks help impoverished families have access to food. This helps all families feed their loved ones despite the financial problems they could be facing.

How Food Banks Work

Food banks have various functions some of these include:

  1. Securing food. Food banks secure donations from national food and grocery manufacturers and retailers. The food is packed and well stored before it is made accessible to people. Food banks are safe places to store food that should be used by those who need it.
  2. Shipping and storage. Food banks receive and safely store donated food and grocery products. They have equipment that helps prevent food from perishing. Since food is not consumed all at once, food banks are the best alternative to offer storage.
  3. Food distribution. Food banks can distribute food and groceries through food programs that benefit families. Specifically, they pay more attention to those at risk of hunger. A lot of people benefit from these programs. It's also the best way to ensure that food is shared equally. 
  4. Support of people served. Food banks support networks that improve food security among the people they serve. These networks educate people on how they can access alternative food sources instead of entirely depending on food banks. They also educate people on the dangers of hunger and help fight for the human rights of those living in hunger. 
  5. Food is always available. A variety of people willingly donate food to food banks every year. That's why food banks are always in a position to provide access to free food that's fit for human consumption.
  6. Manage debts. Apart from providing food, food bank volunteers may also be able to help you deal with managing debt. Food banks recommend agents that can help you deal with your problems. They might also connect you with people who offer loans and allow you to repay them in a given period.

How to Get Help

You can get assistance from food banks by:

  1. Obtaining a voucher. Local agencies collaborate with food banks to offer additional assistance with food. These agencies typically offer a food voucher that you can present at a food bank to get help. 
  2. Contacting them. Most food banks list their contact information on their websites. All you have to do is contact them to ask what assistance might be available for your situation. 
  3. Using a referral agency. You may also consider visiting a Citizens Advice adviser if you prefer a one-on-one conversation. Here, you can get any help you want regarding the food crisis, any illegible grants you might be entitled to, and also get advice on how to maximize your income. Referral agencies also provide emergency food vouchers. 
  4. Exchanging food vouchers. Food banks collaborate with local agencies to provide emergency food packs that might be convenient for a minimum of three days. Food bank centers guarantee confidentiality. 
WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Feeding America: "As America ages, hunger pains grow", "Children facing hunger come from families who face hunger, too", "Millions of people in rural communities face hunger", "Need Help? Find Food."

Manchester Central Foodbank: "HOW TO GET HELP."

The Trussell Trust: "EMERGENCY FOOD."

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