Not having food to feed the family is one of the worst experiences any parent or caretaker can have. When money is short and you need food there are alternatives to stealing, begging or going hungry. Local churches, friends or neighbors may have a spare meal in times of need however there are also two other resource types that can help: food banks and soup kitchens.
Food Bank - these are non-profit groups that receive food from donated from agencies, farmers, growers and distributors. Much of the donated food is extra food that the donator could not sell or just had in excess. Although many food banks turn around and send the food to shelters and soup kitchens, many food banks will distribute the food directly to people in need who come directly to the food bank. Food bank food is usually the kind you can take home and sote (canned goods, packaged food), and won't spoil in a day or two.
Soup Kitchen - these tend to focus on feeding people right now. A hot meal when you're hungry. Generally soup kitchens do not provide canned or packaged goods like a food bank
50% of all food donated comes from grocery stores and food suppliers, compared to only 15% from federal aid programs and 9% of donated food comes from individuals. The remaining comes form direct purchases or other sources (source: US Conference of Mayors 2008 Homeless Survey)
There is always a place to go to get a meal for your family without having to beg on the street. Food banks and soup kitchens are both great alternatives. We will continue to work on this topic to provide more resources.
If you have a local group or organization and you want to list yourself as a stand for your community, let us know. The following link will point you to a directory of over 800 food banks and soup kitchens in the U.S..
http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/foodbanks/index.html (for soup kitchens and food banks)
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