Are you tired of paying high grocery bills every month?
You can get free groceries near you!
No, I am not talking about printing grocery coupons (although that also helps). I’m talking about government programs and charities that offer free groceries. And whether you are a low income family or have just found yourself a little short on money this month, you can take advantage of these options.
When money is tight, affording groceries can be difficult. I mean groceries are expensive nowadays. If you have a large family, a trip to the grocery store can set you back more than $100.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get groceries for free.
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So if you have found yourself asking, “How can I get free groceries near me?”, keep reading to learn more, plus a list of amazing tips and tricks to save more money on groceries.
What will I learn?
Free Groceries via Charities & Government Food Assistance Programs
There are lots of government programs, charities, and other organizations that provide free groceries near you.
Some of these programs have certain eligibility requirements like you have to be on a low income for example. Other organizations help out anyone in need, without any particular requirements.
If you need help with getting groceries, then try these options.
1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program that helps to supplement the food budget of families in need.
Through the program, families can get access to SNAP benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer Card (EBT).
This works like a debit card. An EBT card can be used to purchase groceries at authorized food stores and retailers.
Using your EBT card, you can purchase groceries like:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Breads and cereals
- 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. See if you qualify, and you could get an EBT card to pay for your groceries.
2. WhyHunger Hotline
If you’re really struggling, and you’re thinking, “I need help with food today,” then I would recommend using the WhyHunger Hotline.
The WhyHunger Hotline refers people in need across the United States to food pantries, soup kitchens, summer meal sites, government nutrition programs, and grassroots organizations, especially those that provide access to nutritious foods and nutritional support services.
You can call 1(800) 5-HUNGRY, text your zip code to 1-800-548-6479, or use the form on the website linked in the section heading to locate a local emergency food provider and other support services.
3. Food Pantries
FoodPantries.org is a website that gathers food pantries from across the country.
On the site, you can search for food pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves and other food help in your area. The website is easy to use, and it provides pantry hours, details, and more.
4. USDA National Hunger Clearinghouse
If you’re in need of free food, then contact the USDA National Hunger Clearinghouse.
The USDA National Hunger Clearinghouse helps low-income individuals or communities by providing food assistance and other nutrition and social services information. It serves as an important tool in combating hunger and promoting economic mobility.
You can access the clearinghouse in two ways:
- By phone: You can call the USDA National Hunger Hotline. This operates from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time. If you need food assistance, you can call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE to speak with a representative who will find food resources such as meal sites, food banks, and other social services available near your location.
- By text: You can send a text to the automated service at 914-342-7744. with a question that may contain a keyword such as “food,” “summer,” “meals,” etc. to receive an automated response to resources located near an address and/or zip code.
5. Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities USA also provides help and services to people in need. You can get help from your local Catholic Charities.
You may be able to get assistance with food. You can use the map on the website linked in the section heading to find your local Catholic Charities.
6. 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.
So, it’s another great resource to check out if you need help paying for food.
You can find your local community food bank on the website, which is linked in the section heading above.
7. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Pregnant women and those with children can get food assistance from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The WIC provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.
The aim of the program is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.
If you are eligible for the program, then you may be able to get assistance with food from the WIC.
The WIC serves:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- Non-breastfeeding postpartum women
- Toddlers and children up to age 5
Common locations include:
- County health departments
- Mobile clinics (vans)
- Community centers
- Public housing sites
- Migrant health centers and camps
- Indian health services facilities
8. The Salvation Army
Another place that can help you to get free groceries is the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army runs food pantries in local communities nationwide. You should contact your local Salvation Army chapter for more information. You can do that using the page linked in the section heading above.
9. Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
If you are more than 60 years old and you’re struggling to afford the cost of groceries, then you may be able to get assistance from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
The CSFP works to improve the health of low-income people of at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods.
USDA distributes both food and administrative funds to participating states, and Indian Tribal Organizations to operate CSFP.
State agencies distribute CSFP food to public and nonprofit local agencies. Local agencies determine the eligibility of applicants, distribute the foods, and provide nutrition education.
To participate in the program, you must be at least 60 years of age and reside in one of the states or on one of the Indian reservations that participate in CSFP. States may establish local residency requirements based on designated service areas (but may not require a minimum period of residency).
States may also require that participants be at nutritional risk, as determined by a physician or by local agency staff.
There are also income eligibility guidelines that may need to be met. States establish income limits for the elderly that are at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.
You can learn more about the program and the eligibility requirements on the website linked in the section heading.
You will need to contact your State Distributing Agency for further assistance.
CSFP may not currently be available in all areas within each state, so your state agency will be able to tell you if CSFP is available where you live.
10. Local churches
You should also consider getting in touch with your local church as they may be able to help you with getting access to food. Many churches run food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, food drives, sponsor food giveaways, or have food outreach programs in the communities they serve.
So, churches near you may be able to help you with getting access to free groceries. Use Google to find nearby churches, and then contact them for assistance.
PantryNet.org is a website that lists local food pantries around the country. It has a network of partners including pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.
Using the map on the website, you can find a location near you. You can click on places to view addresses, days, and hours.
Overall, it’s a good website for finding food help near you.
12. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program that operates in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions.
The program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. So, you could potentially get free school lunches for your children, which can save you money on groceries.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools located in low-income areas to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. Children that are attending a school within the CEP program do not need to fill out a school meal application.
In other school areas, eligibility for the school meals program is based on income levels. Families that believe their income is under these limits should fill out an application for free or reduced-price meals through their school.
You can learn more about the NSLP on the website linked in the section heading.
13. The School Breakfast Program (SBP)
The School Breakfast Program (SBP) provides reimbursement to states to operate nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and residential childcare institutions.
The Food and Nutrition Service administers the SBP at the federal level. State education agencies administer the SBP at the state level and local school food authorities operate the program in schools.
The SBP provides breakfast each school day morning. You can get more information on the operation of the SBP and all child nutrition programs by contacting the agency in your state that is responsible for the administration of the programs.
You can learn more about the SBP program on the website linked in the section heading above.
14. The Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)
The Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is designed to provide low-income seniors with access to locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey, and herbs.
The program is also designed to increase the domestic consumption of agricultural commodities through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agricultural programs. And, it is designed to aid in the development of new and additional farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community support agricultural programs.
SFMNP serves low-income seniors. Low-income seniors are generally defined as individuals who are at least 60 years old and who have household incomes of not more than 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines.
Common locations for the program include:
- Farmers’ markets
- Roadside stands
The program is administered by state agencies, such as the state Department of Agriculture or Aging.
Currently, SFMNP operates in 57 states, so check to see if your state agency operates an SFMNP.
You can learn more about the SFMNP program on the website linked in the section heading.
15. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income people by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost.
USDA provides 100% American-grown USDA Foods and administrative funds to states to operate TEFAP.
States provide the food to local agencies that they have selected, which are generally food banks, and in turn, these distribute the food to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public.
You may be eligible to get food assistance from a local TEFAP organization in your area in two ways:
- Getting food from a place like a food pantry to take home.
- Or, eating a meal with a group of people at a place like a soup kitchen.
Whether or not you are eligible to receive TEFAP foods to take home depends on your household income level. The income level depends on the state that you live in because the state decides the income standards for TEFAP.
In some states, you may be eligible for TEFAP if you already participate in other federal, state, or local food, health, or welfare programs that are based on income.
For meals that local organizations prepare and serve in a group setting, you do not have to meet a certain income level because these organizations have already shown that they serve mostly low-income people.
You can contact your state distributing agency for further assistance.
You can learn more about TEFAP on the website linked in the section heading.
Ways to Get Free Groceries (or Save Money on Them)
There are plenty more ways to get free groceries. If you don’t apply for the programs above, because perhaps you’re not on a low income, or the programs and charities above are just not for you, then the options in this section may suit you better.
If you’re struggling a little with money right now and are struggling to pay for your groceries, then the tips people can be really helpful. These are practical, everyday tips you can use to save money on groceries or get them for free.
These tips are ideal for anyone who’s not on a low income but is still struggling with the cost of groceries. I mean, everything is so darn expensive nowadays! Of course, these tips will help those on a low income too. They’re just helpful in general!
So, give these tips a try if you need help with your food bills.
16. Use Ibotta get free cash on your groceries
Ibotta is a grocery cashback app that you can use to get rebates on your purchases at the grocery store.
Sure, it won’t get you totally free groceries, but it will net you some free cash when you go to the grocery store.
Ibotta provides you with a rebate when you purchase specific products and upload a photo of your receipt as proof of purchase.
You can get anywhere from $1 to $3 or more back for each product. You can actually get even bigger rebates than that though in some cases.
You can get your earnings sent to your bank account or PayPal account.
Here’s how to get rebates with Ibotta in-store:
- Before you head out to the store, browse offers. Simply, choose a retailer, add offers for the items that you plan to purchase, and then head out to the store.
- Once you have checked out, you will need to submit a photo of your receipt in the app. Then, you’ll get a rebate.
- You can view your cashback in your Ibotta earnings within 24 hours.
- Once you reach $20 in earnings, you can withdraw your money to your bank account or PayPal account.
You can also get cashback on your online purchases with the Ibotta browser extension and the mobile app.
17. Grow your own food
Another option that you can try, provided that you have the space, of course, is growing your own food. You could grow potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and herbs like basil and cilantro at home.
Then, when you need one of those items, you can simply go to your garden and get them for free, rather than having to head out to the grocery store and pay for them.
You can’t grow everything you need, but you can grow at least a portion of what you’d normally purchase at the store, which can save you money.
18. Do fun tasks on Swagbucks
On Swagbucks, you can earn points for doing a variety of tasks, such as:
- Taking surveys
- Watching videos
- Playing games
- Shopping online
- Browsing the internet
These tasks are really easy to do, and you can do them whenever you have any downtime.
For doing tasks on Swagbucks, you can earn points that you can redeem for money to your PayPal account. Then, you can use this cash to get free groceries.
Swagbucks also allows you to redeem your earnings for gift cards to various grocery stores, such as Safeway, Walmart, and Target. So, you can use your gift card to get free groceries.
19. Take surveys on i-Say
Another way to get free groceries is to take surveys on i-Say. The site allows you to redeem your earnings for gift cards to grocery stores, like Target and Walmart, and you can also get Amazon gift cards too. You can use your gift card to get free groceries.
20. Pick up an online side hustle
If you are struggling with money and often find that you just don’t seem to have enough money to cover groceries and perhaps even other bills and expenses, then you may want to consider picking up an online side hustle.
A side hustle is basically a gig that you do alongside your regular job to bring in some extra money. You can use this extra cash to get groceries, pay other bills, and just ease your financial stress a little.
Obviously, not everyone can or wants to pick up an online side gig, so you can skip this tip if a side hustle isn’t for you. But, if you can pick up an online side hustle, it can be a great way to bring in some extra cash.
Here are some online side hustles to consider:
- Freelance writing: You can find work on sites like Textbroker, UpWork and PeoplePerHour.
- Data entry: You can find work on sites like UpWork and Clickworker.
- Virtual assistant work: Read our post on how to become a virtual assistant.
- Transcription work: You can find work on sites like Tigerfish, TranscribeMe, and CastingWords.
- Proofreading and editing: Read our list of proofreading and editing jobs.
21. Do some gig work near you
If you are struggling to afford groceries, then consider doing some gig work near you. Like with online side hustles, you can complete local gigs alongside your regular job.
You can use the money that you make doing local gig work to get your groceries for free.
Here are some local gigs you could consider to make extra money:
- Work as a rideshare driver for companies like Uber and Lyft.
- Do some pet-sitting work on Pet-Sitter .com, Rover, and PetBacker
- Deliver food with apps like DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub.
- Deliver packages with Amazon Flex.
- Deliver groceries with apps like Instacart and Shipt.
- Run errands with TaskRabbit.
- Be a dog walker on sites like Wag! and Tailster.
For more places to find gig work near you, check out my post on how to get paid to deliver stuff, and my list of jobs like Amazon Flex.
22. Take surveys on Branded Surveys
Another way to score yourself some free groceries is to take surveys on Branded Surveys.
Branded surveys will pay you for your opinions. And, you can redeem your earnings for gift cards to a variety of grocery stores, such as Walmart and Whole Foods Market, and Instacart. So, you can use your gift cards to get free groceries.
23. Do easy tasks on PrizeRebel
If you are looking to get free groceries, then try PrizeRebel.
The site gives you points for doing a variety of tasks, such as:
- Watching videos
- Taking market research surveys
- Signing up for brand name offers
You can redeem your points for money to your PayPal account. Then, you can use the money to get groceries for free.
Points can also be redeemed for gift cards to retailers, like:
- Kroger (Can be used at subsidiaries too, like King Soopers, Metro Market, and Food4Less)
- Albertsons (Can be used at subsidiaries too, like Vons, Safeway, and ACME)
Then, you can use the gift card to get free groceries.
What’s great about PrizeRebel is that it pays fast. According to the site, processing of all reward claims will be completed around 24 hours from the time of your reward redemption.
24. Limit food waste
One of the best ways that you can save money on groceries is to simply limit food waste. Wasting food is like wasting money really. You’ve spent money on something that you end up just throwing out. It’s a waste of money.
If you can limit the amount of food that you waste, then you can lessen the amount that you have to buy, and therefore, spend at the grocery store.
Here are some simple tips for limiting food waste:
Freeze tomatoes to make pizza and pasta sauces
You can prevent wasting tomatoes by freezing them whole. Freeze the tomatoes on a baking tray in a single layer first so that they don’t stick together in the freezer.
Then, take them out of the freezer and transfer them into a freezer bag. Put them back into the freezer.
Then, you’ll have them ready when you need them to make quick sauces and soups. And, you won’t waste them!
Keep nut and seed flours fresh by keeping them in the freezer
These types of flours can go bad quickly. So, if you’re not planning to use the entire bag fast, then you should separate the bag into smaller freezer bags and then put them in the freezer.
Then, the next time you need flour, you can simply take it out of the freezer. This will stop it from going to waste and save you money on groceries.
Freeze leftover pizza dough
If you make too much pizza dough, don’t throw it out. Instead, freeze it!
Then, the next time you need dough, you can just take it out of the freezer and you’ll have the pizza made much faster. And, you don’t waste the dough.
Make your own flavored butter/oils with leftover herbs
Herbs can wilt fast, meaning we often have to throw them away. So, before they go bad, chop them up, and mix them into some butter or olive oil.
Then, place the mixture into ice cube trays. Then, you can use this flavored butter/oil whenever you need it, like to season vegetables or to sauté onions for example.
Place boxed foods in food storage containers
Snack foods and any other boxed foods can often go stale. Then, you have to throw them out, which is simply a waste of money.
Instead of having these items go stale and having to throw them out, place these food items into food storage containers. Then, they’ll stay fresh, and you’ll prevent food waste.
Use an apple to stop potatoes from sprouting
Potatoes are great because they’re versatile, so they can be used in so many different meals.
If you want to keep them fresh for longer, then make sure that you store them the right way.
If you store apples alongside potatoes, it will prevent them from sprouting.
Keep baked goods fresh for longer with a piece of bread
Baked goods, such as cookies and cake, can dry out fast and then you have to throw them away.
Again, you’re wasting money. And, groceries are expensive!
There is a simple way that you can prevent baked goods from drying out though. Just place a slice of bread on top of your baked goods and the bread will help them to retain their moisture. So, it can prevent you from wasting food!
I actually have a list of kitchen hacks that you should check out. That post contains tons of tips that can save you money on food, so have a read of that to learn more.
25. Join a grocery store reward program
If you want to save money on groceries or even get free stuff from the store, then I highly recommend joining grocery store loyalty programs.
These programs allow you to earn rewards back from the cash that you spend at your local store.
Many stores, including both regional and national grocery stores, offer reward programs. And, these can offer some great savings and freebies.
All loyalty programs work slightly differently, but most allow you to earn one or more of the following when you purchase items:
- Points that can be redeemed for free stuff, which is usually either grocery items or money off fuel.
- Free stuff when you spend a certain amount at a store.
These programs are good because they provide you with rewards each time you shop. As I said, programs each differ in terms of what they offer.
So, do check with your store to see what its loyalty program has to offer.
Here are some examples of grocery store reward programs:
The Target REDcard is a loyalty card, which also functions as a credit or debit card too.
With the Target REDcard, you save 5% every time you shop in-store at Target or online at Target.com.
You also get free shipping on most items. That’s great because shipping fees are a real downside to online shopping that can really increase the cost.
You also get access to a longer returns period too.
So, it’s one of the best grocery store rewards cards out there.
You can choose to get the Target REDcard as either a debit card or a credit card.
Visit the homepage for the Target REDcard and then select the type of card that you want to apply for.
H-E-B Loyalty Cards
H-E-B offers a credit card and a debit card. Both offer 5% cashback on H-E-B brand products.
The credit card also provides 1.5% cashback on all other purchases.
With the debit card, you can get 5% back on all H-E-B brand products in-store or online.
You can learn more about these cashback cards here.
Albertson’s Rewards is a program that gives you points when you shop. And, you can redeem these points for free groceries and for gas discounts.
The program is called Albertsons for U. It’s free to become an Albertsons for U member.
As a member, you will earn a point for every $1 that you spend on groceries. You can also earn 2 points for every $1 spent on qualifying gift cards.
Every 100 points earns you a Reward. You can redeem Rewards for free grocery items or discounts on gas and groceries.
You also get access to other benefits, like, you receive an annual birthday treat and get a free item every month. New Albertsons for U members also receive two welcome offers that are good for $5 off your next purchase of $25 or more.
You can learn more about Albertsons for U here.
Check with your local grocery store to see if it has a loyalty program. It’s definitely worth signing up if they do.
As you can see, whether you’re on a low income or have just found that money is a little short this month, getting free groceries is possible if you know where to look.
By taking advantage of the available programs and opportunities that offer free groceries near you, you can save a significant amount of money on your grocery bill each month.
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