How To Make Use Of Food Pantries (And Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Use Them)

Blog | October 17th, 2018

How To Make Use Of Food Pantries (And Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Use Them)

Many Americans struggle with putting food on the table. Life factors like having a family, being laid off, the rising cost of living, and other unexpected expenses can tighten the budget to the point of worrying about where your next meal is coming from.

Even though unemployment rates are low, those numbers don’t account for the fact that more and more American workers are significantly underemployed.

Luckily, there is help available to feed yourself and your family when times are tough: food pantries.


Why food pantries?

Food pantries offer very accessible assistance to those who need it. Other means of receiving assistance, such as food stamps, have an application process that can be tricky to navigate and are becoming more and more difficult to qualify for.

Food pantries, on the other hand, can be as easy to use as simply showing up with a valid ID.

Generally, this is what you need to do:
  1. Search for a food bank or food pantry in your area. If you’re in a metropolitan area, there is generally a large food bank that operates through partner institutions, like religious institutions and other non-profits. If you find a major food bank, you can search for partner food pantries that you can go to directly for groceries.
  2. Find out the operating hours for your local food bank. You can only pick up food during those open hours. You may want to call the institution to verify their hours.
  3. Check what you need to bring with you in order to receive food. In many instances, all you need is a valid, current ID that has your residential address on it. In other cases, you may need to fill out an application form and verify your income. Either way, a food pantry will let you take home food on your first visit.
  4. Get free food for you and your family. You won’t have the stress of worrying about going to bed hungry or making it until next paycheck.

That’s basically it! If you are lost for a place to start, contact local religious institutions in your area. They will most likely be aware of food pantries in the area if they don’t, in fact, operate one themselves.


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Most food pantries will offer a variety of pantry and canned goods that don’t spoil easily and have a relatively long shelf life. You can expect to find goods like canned tuna, canned vegetables, beans, crackers, herbs and spices, canned or dried fruits, nuts, peanut butter, rice, bread, and much more.

Remember, food pantries are a resource for people and families who are having a hard time putting food on the table. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 40 million Americans lived in food-insecure households. You are not alone and should feel completely comfortable utilizing this resource if you are in need of it. That’s what they are there for.

Back in 2014, a study found that 1 in 7 Americans relied on food banks and that statistic likely remains the same today.

Luckily, many people who can donate food to food banks do so, keeping major food banks well stocked and able to distribute to their partner food pantries. If you are in need of food assistance, make use of this service. In the future, when you are able to, you can return the favor and donate goods and volunteer your time to these wonderful non-profit organizations.