What is Food Banks?
Food Banks acquire large donations of food from the food industry and distribute it to organizations that feed hungry people. They solicit, store and distribute large donations of food. Food banks distribute the donations they receive to a large number of member agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, meal programs, drug treatment centers, and senior care centers.
What is Food Pantries?
Food Pantries provide three-day food packages to families that have a place to live, but not enough food. These packages are designed to provide nutritionally balanced meals.
What is Soup Kitchens?
Soup kitchens serve individuals in need of a hot meal, the only meal of the day for many of them. Most soup kitchens serve a full, balanced meal, and some prepare and deliver meals to the homebound as w
Drive-thru Food Pantries
Since the start of the coronavirus, drive-thru food pantries have become the safest, most efficient way to provide food to our struggling neighbors.
Who can visit a drive-thru pantry?
Drive-thru pantries are open for anyone who needs help getting food. There are no eligibility criteria. Visitors do not need to provide any identification or income statements.
Only two piece of information is asked
- You Zipcode, and
- Number of people in their family.
You dont need to take appointment. Drive-thru pantries are first-come, first served so plan to arrive early.
How do drive-thru pantries actually work?
There are lot of volunteers help at Drive-thru food pantries. While not all drive-thru pantries operate in the same way, here’s how most work:
Staff and volunteers direct visitors to the parking area.
Visitors pull up to the pantry in their car and are usually guided into a clearly marked queue. As people move through the pantry, staff will continue to move the cars forward to get everyone through as quickly and safely as possible.
You are required to fill some information for Pantry's recording keeping.
Food is loaded into the cars.
Pre-packed bags of food, usually full of shelf-stable items like pasta, canned fruit and peanut butter, as well as fresh produce and meats are loaded by volunteers into the trunk of the car.
Pet Food Pantry
One in four pet owners who give up their pets to a shelter say it is because they cannot afford to care for them. Pet Food Pantries are designed to fill the void in the nation’s current assistance programs that exclude the purchase of food and supplies for family pets.
The Pet Food Pantry provides free pet food, for 3 months or less, to pet owners who cannot afford to feed their pets in massachusetts
Who are eligible for Pet Food Pantry
Pet Food Pantry helps people who are:
- All ages, races and marital status
- Unemployed or underemployed
- Retired, living on social security or other limited income
- Physically or mentally disabled
- Experiencing homelessness or housing instability
Salvation Army Food Pantry
The Salvation Army is dedicated to eliminating food insecurity.
The Salvation Army operates free local food banks from almost all of their local social service centers. The charity organization is involved in feeding millions of families each year, with a large percentage of those assisted being children as well as the elderly.
The charity operates in almost every major county, city, and town across the nation. In general, the Salvation Army will try to provide assistance to anyone in need, but their programs do rely on both donations and volunteers.
Find a location of a Salvation Army food pantry in massachusetts.
Church Food Pantry
A number of churches have food pantries for those in their neighborhoods who are in need of food items.
Churches operate with food donations gathered and deliver to the food pantry nearest you by individuals using food drives.
Some churches also deliver food items to elderly who are unable to drive to a nearest community food pantry. Please contact your local church directly.
Find a local church food pantry in massachusetts.
Catholic Charities Food Pantry
Resources provided by the Catholic Charity organization focus on addressing food, holiday, and immigration needs.
Families of all religions, backgrounds, and cultures can contact Catholic Charity centers for help.
Catholic Charities are open to families on a first-come, first-serve basis. The centers operate during normal business hours, and provide walk-ins with groceries, food boxes, and items to prepare a meal.
The food pantries are like grocery stores, allow clients the ability to choose the items they need from the groceries that are available on site.
First-time clients of the food pantry will need to apply, and this is done from a one-page application. An applicant will need to provide basic household member as well as demographic information.
This Catholic Charity program is in high demand, and due to the overwhelming needs placed upon it, the organization can only distribute free food to an individual at most once per month.
Find a local catholic charities food pantry in massachusetts.
Helping Hands Food Pantry
Helping Hands is a faith-based 501(c)(3) food pantry operated almost entirely by volunteers.
It provides a 7-day supply of groceries and personal care items free of charge to people in need, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Helping Hands is supported entirely by donations from individuals, service organizations, churches, and businesses in our community.
Find a local helping hands food pantry open in massachusetts.
Mobile Food Pantry
The mobile food pantry programs distributes food directly to families in need during large-scale one-day distributions.
The mobile food pantry program expands the capacity of the Feeding America network to make food items more accessible in underserved communities where people with limited financial resources may not be able to access food through traditional grocery stores or food pantries.
Mobile food pantries usually visit churches, community centers, schools, shopping centers, and other convenient locations. They usually go to areas where there aren't grocery stores or other food pantries.
A typical mobile pantry serves 200-250 families distributing up to 10,000 pounds of food. This past year over 6.6 million pounds were distributed through this program.
Mobile Food Pantry Schedule
Unlike traditional food pantries where you go to them, mobile pantry trucks come to you. Food banks sometimes have an online mobile food pantry schedule.
Mobile food pantry scheduled to visit a community once a week or once a month. There may be last-minute cancellations or changes so recheck the mobile food pantry schedule before you plan to go.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost.
You may be able to get food assistance from a local TEFAP organization in massachusetts in two ways:
1) Getting foods from a place like a food pantry to take home or
2) Eating a meal with a group of people at a place like a soup kitchen.
St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry
The St. Vincent de Paul food pantry operates much like a grocery store where people in need can choose their own food. It helps to enhance their personal dignity and reduces waste due to unwanted food items.
It also helps them to be proactive in addressing any underlying health issues. This is our model of choice for food pantries in the future.
Gift Cards & Vouchers: Volunteer caseworkers distribute food gift cards, food pantry vouchers, and financial aid for food as part of the Home Visit process and through our Family Support Centers.
Emergency Food Boxes:They provide snack bags to the homeless and food boxes filled with enough groceries to prepare meals for a week to individuals and families.
Weekend & Summer Meals:Every Friday during the school year they delivers food bags to a local elementary school where almost 91% of the students are on a reduced or free lunch program.
Find a local St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry open in massachusetts.
Rural Delivery Program
More than 90% of Feeding America agencies are in rural locations.
Rural Delivery Program delivers food and other products once a month at twenty points in the eastern, western and southernmost parts of service area. This makes it just a bit easier for some of more remote rural agencies to receive their products. About 70% of members take advantage of the Rural Delivery Program.
Tips for Visiting a Food Pantry
Show up early.
This is very important. This means you will be first in line and have a chance to get the items that are sought after and in limited quantities such as fresh produce, dairy and frozen food.
You don't usually need to show up hours ahead of time but coming at least an hour before is usually a good idea.
Remember all documentation.
Many food pantries require documentation to prove who you are, and in some cases, where you live.
This is to make sure people are not coming more than they are allowed or using fake names to do so. Call ahead of time to find out what documentation is needed.
It's just your photo ID and a piece of mail that verifies your address.
Use several food banks.
Using more than one food bank (when available) is smart because you may be able to get something at one that you may not get at another.
For instance, one may have a deal with a local gardener that gives them their extras. This may mean this food bank has more produce.
Eligible for other programs?
Ask your Department of Social Services office if you are eligible for other assistance programs to supplement your household’s food supply.
They can easily tell you if you can apply for WIC (Women and Infant Children), USDA Commodities or SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.
Ask about extras.
If you have special needs for infants or special diets, the pantries may be able to assist you.
Many times, they can help with diapers, baby formula, baby food, personal hygiene products, and even special diet items like gluten free or sugar free foods.
Go on different days of the week.
Depending on the food pantry, they may be open only one or two days a week or they may be open all seven days. When you have a choice, going midweek is often best as it is less crowded.
Be polite to workers.
Nearly everyone at a food bank is a volunteer. Be polite to the workers there as they often deal with highly emotional situations.
FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions)
1. What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?
Independent community food pantries are self-governing and usually distribute food to their clients on a once-a-month basis. A food bank is the storehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. A food pantry functions as the arms that reach out to that community directly.
2. What kind of food is at a food pantry?
Specifically, food banks often need items like:
- Peanut butter
- Canned soup
- Canned fruit
- Canned vegetables
- Canned beans
- Canned stew
- Canned fish
3. Who can go to food pantry?
At the majority of food pantries, eligibility is based on self-attested need. You do not need to have a referral, and income is not a factor to receive food.
4. What is the difference between a food pantry and a soup kitchen?
A food pantry provides three-day food packages to families that have a place to live, but not enough food. These packages are designed to provide nutritionally balanced meals. Soup kitchens serve individuals in need of a hot meal, the only meal of the day for many of them.
5. How does a food pantry work?
Food Banks acquire large donations of edible but unmarketable food from the food industry and distribute it to organizations that feed hungry people. Then they provide this food to family in a need.