Food banks may have some programs that distribute food directly to individuals and families, especially during emergencies like COVID-19. However, the primary function of a food bank is to partner with other agencies such as churches, senior centers, and schools to ensure an adequate flow of food throughout the communities they serve.
A food bank develops a network of these pantries and soup kitchens to increase access to food by meeting people in the communities and places they already are, making it easier for people to get the groceries they need.
Food banking is a complex logistical effort that requires efficiencies at every point along the way – from obtaining or procuring food to implementing safe handling and storage practices to selecting local charities to help distribute the food.
Food banks are a critical part of the food cycle. Each food bank helps avert millions of pounds of good food that would otherwise be wasted. Many food banks also work with pig farmers and the like to ensure the food that cannot be eaten by people goes to good use.