Wondering, “where can I find free food pantries near me?”
Well, unfortunately you’re not alone. According to a report carried out by Feeding America in 2014, 1 in 7 Americans rely on food banks to get free food.
The number of Americans turning to food banks increased during the COVID-19 pandemic with Feeding America seeing a 60% average increase in food bank users. About 4 in 10 were first-timers.
Sometimes, there just isn’t enough money left after rent, car payments, etc., to be able to afford food for yourself and/or your family. If you are on a low income, it can seem impossible.
If you have children, you may have found yourself skipping meals so that they can eat instead. Nobody should have to go hungry. If you are finding yourself in a situation where you simply can’t afford to feed yourself or your family, then do not hesitate to visit your local pantry or food bank.
There are lots of them around and they are here to help you.
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What will I learn?
What’s the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?
Food pantries are usually independent community food distribution centers that distribute food. A food bank, on the other hand, is usually a storehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. Both can help you to feed yourself and your family.
How do I find food pantries in my area?
In today’s post, I’ll be listing some great websites and organizations that you can use to find food pantries and food banks near you.
Most of the time, you just have to enter your zip code or address, and you will get a list of pantries and food banks. It’s pretty simple.
Free Food Pantries
So, if you need assistance, please do check out the sites and organizations below.
1. Feeding America
Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks that secures and distributes 4.3 billion meals every year. It does this through a variety of food pantries and meal programs throughout the country. You can find your local community food bank on the website, which is linked in the section heading above.
2. Food Pantries
FoodPantries.org is a website that gathers food pantries from across the country. You can use the website to search for food pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves and other food help in your area. The website is easy to use, and it offers pantry hours, details, and more.
3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Next on the list we have the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This isn’t technically a food bank or food pantry in and of itself, but rather a government program that helps to supplement the food budget of families in need.
Through the program, families get access to SNAP benefits on an Electric Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card. You can use this EBT card to purchase groceries at authorized food stores and retailers. This includes things like fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, bread and cereals, and dairy products.
To get SNAP benefits, you will need to apply in the state in which you currently live, and meet certain requirements, like resource and income limits. You can learn more about SNAP on the page linked in the section heading.
AmpleHarvest.org is a wonderful website that connects gardeners with more than 8,600 food pantries in order to eliminate hunger and food waste in the United States. According to AmpleHarvest.org, these food pantries help to nourish one out of six Americans, including a quarter of all kids under six years old. You can use the website to find a food pantry near you.
PantryNet.org is a website that lists local food pantries around the country. It has a network of partners including pantries, soup kids, and shelters. You can find a location near you by using the map on the website. You can click on places to view addresses, days, and hours. Overall, it’s a useful site for finding food help near you.
6. United Way 211
211 is a really great service from United Way that helps people in need with lots of different things including food. If you need help paying for or finding charitable food, then contact 211 and it will be able to assist you.
Your local 211 agency can offer up to date information about local assistance that could be available to you.
All you need to do is call 211 from your cell phone or landline and you can speak with a live, trained service professional. Or, if you prefer to text, or chat online, then you can also find other contact information on the site linked above. Check the page linked above for more details on getting food assistance through 211 as the site also lists food resources and programs.
7. Use Google to find free food pantries and banks near you
A really easy way to find food pantries and food banks near you is to use Google. Just open up Google, and then enter the term, “food pantries near me,” or “food banks near me,” and you will get lots of results for places near you that can assist you in feeding yourself and your family.
What’s good about using Google is that you can get details like directions, opening hours, and contact numbers all in one place. It’s a great way for finding food assistance near you.
Getting Help from Food Distribution Centers
I know how hard it can be to struggle with feeding yourself. When money is tight, it can be really tough to afford groceries.
There really is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes we just don’t have enough cash left over at the end of the month to pay for food no matter how hard we work. If you are finding yourself in a situation where you are short of money for food, take a deep breath, know that assistance is out there, read the list above, and start finding the help that you and your family deserve.
I am legally blind and can only see this since it is on a big TV. I cannot drive and have a very hard time trying to get to a food pantry and can only carry a little bit. I turn 60 this year. Is there any way to get food brought to me?
Diane, I am so sorry to hear that. Every food pantry has its own policies so you’d have to call them up and see if they do offer delivery. If you lived near me, I would happily pick up the food and deliver it to you. I am sure you can find someone around you to pick up food on your behalf and deliver it to you. Maybe friends, family or even neighbors.
If you can’t find help, please let me know and I’ll try to find somebody near you who might be able to help.
I hope you situation improves, Diane.
The last food pantry – Madison Heights – gave out so little food that it was hardly worth waiting for 2 hours. I got 2 cans of veggies, celery, no paper products, no fresh fruit or veggies, no dairy at all, one small bag of powdered sugar, a small bag of coffee and a few tea bags. And I wonder why this is?
I waited 3 hrs for the last pantry I went to and it wasn’t worth the gas I used. I thought pantry was to help you to be able to make food for yourself. What do I do with a gallon of half and half ? I was given mac & cheese. It was so full of fat I had to throw it out. I also have 1 bruised apple and 1 orange and 6 lbs of almonds. I’m not trying to sound ungrateful, I will use everything, but it didn’t help me make a meal.
So sorry to hear that the pantries a couple of you went to had very limited food to share. The need is always growing. I hope you have found better sources by now. Some food pantries are not attached to larger food bank or other resources … they quickly get overwhelmed by the growing needs. Most pantries are pure volunteer efforts. They count on community support (again communities themselves may be under pressure with limited resources. My only suggestion is to see if someone can check out other pantries for you and help you get linked to them. Larger pantries are part of a network of pantries that work with food banks. Food banks are not-for-profit entities (basically holding and distribution centers) that work with larger food suppliers (grocery stores, etc.) to get large donations of food (some very perishable) that need to get sent to smaller pantries. Food banks also rely heavily on volunteers but may have a small # of paid employees. Try to find pantries that have connections to food banks or other distribution options (government, farmers, etc.).
I know this doesn’t help you get food … buy may explain the why and perhaps suggest other resources.