Food donations are a great way to help alleviate hunger and increase food security! Food insecurity is characterized by lacking the necessary financial resources to access nutritious food essential for health. We wrote this blog post to help answer the question of where can I drop off food donations near me?
Imagine this, you just received your check for this month: $2,000 dollars. You can't qualify for any government assistance because you make a few hundred above the maximum income threshold.
With this check, you pay rent [$1,200], insurance [$133], and utilities [$171]. Now, with $496 dollars, for you and your child. You will also need to buy incidentals: medicine, hygiene products, and more. With the average cost of food for two being around $500, you will have far less than that to buy adequate food.
Food insecure households often experience multiple financial burdens that negatively impact their ability to buy nutritional foods. Extreme food insecurity can result in hunger.
Food Insecurity in America
Feeding America estimates 42 million Americans will be food insecure, and over 13 million children are currently living in food insecure households. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has drastically increased for over 10 million Americans. Unsurprisingly, children, minorities, and the elderly populations are disproportionately impacted. It is critical that our local food systems have a source of fresh and healthy foods available to distribute to our underserved populations.
Now, thinking back to this story, how can this mother and child make sure their nutritional needs are met? Well, they can go to hunger relief organizations to receive the food they need. And here is where you can come in! You can drop off food donations to your local hunger relief organizations. Those organizations will then redistribute these resources to food insecure families in your local community.
The main goal of hunger relief organizations is to provide a source of food to populations in need. Hunger relief organizations form partnerships with individual donors, community retailers, distributors, government agencies, and other organizations to distribute food to food insecure families. With that said, how does donating food help the community? Donating food is a great way to decrease food waste, reduce production of greenhouse gases, and strengthen your community through food.
We have compiled a list of resources below, so you can easily donate food near you.
Where can I drop off food donations near me?
Locations for Food Banks and Food Pantries
Feeding America is the largest food bank network in the nation. They have 200 food banks in the network and 60,000 food distribution sites. Approximately 4.3 billion meals are distributed each year. Find your local Food Bank. Feeding America provides an interactive map to find food banks in your state and zip code. Specific instructions on where to donate, receive, and volunteer can be found by clicking the food bank of your choice. [Please note: The link only connects you with food banks in-network with Feeding America]
Midwest Food Bank is a faith-based, national food bank in 10 locations across the US. Find out if Midwest Food Bank is activated in your state and donate to a Midwest food bank.
Foodpantries.org is a great place to find food pantries and soup kitchens in your local community.
WhyHunger helps connect you with your local food pantries through the phone [1(800) 5-HUNGRY] or by texting your zip code to [1-800-548-6479]. Please note, WhyHunger’s purpose is to assist food insecure populations locate food, therefore some food pantries listed might not accept food donations.
FoodFinder is an interactive map to find food pantries in your zip code. Similar to WhyHunger, FoodFinder helps food insecure individuals locate food. Through FoodFinder, additional contact information, types of services provided, and operation hours can be found by clicking the food pantry of your choice.
Looking for other, more non-traditional options
Freedges are public refrigerators that provide a place for people to donate, share, and obtain food within the community. Foods that can be donated include fresh produce, prepackaged baked and dry foods, commercially packaged foods, dairy products, and labeled home-cooked meals. All home-cooked meals must be labeled with date of donation, food description, and list of allergens. Visit Find a Freedge, to utilize the interactive map to locate a community fridge near you.
Little Free Pantries are small pantries that provide a space for people to donate what they can and take what they need. It is a great place to donate small amounts of nonperishable foods and personal care products to people in your community. Mini pantry movement is an interactive map that locates little free pantries in your community.
Food not Bombs is a food rescue organization aimed to decrease hunger through the distribution of vegan and vegetarian meals to communities in need. Visit here to locate and donate to a Food not Bombs location near you.
Do you have fresh produce from your garden?
Fresh Food Connect is on a mission to create a more healthy, sustainable, and local food system by creating a market for homegrown food. Fresh Food Connect licenses its mobile app to hunger relief organizations to coordinate the aggregation of homegrown produce. This produce is then donated and used to create positive change in the local food system. Individual gardeners sign up on the Fresh Food Connect app to donate their backyard grown produce that would perhaps otherwise go to waste. Fresh Food Connect helps solve “the zucchini problem” by directing surplus produce from garden to hunger relief center. This is done through a pick-up or drop off model, depending on local operations. Download the Fresh Food Connect App to donate your surplus produce today!
AmpleHarvest.org connects backyard gardeners to local food pantries. Find a Pantry to Donate Food is an interactive map that helps gardeners locate food pantries near you.
Other Resources to Locate and Donate to Hunger Relief Organizations
Homeless Shelters Directory provides information on homeless shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens by state. It provides information to locate and donate food to housing insecure and homeless populations.
Swipe out Hunger is a national organization aimed to decrease hunger for college students. Colleges partnered with Swipe out Hunger can be found here. Swipe out Hunger organizes events such as “The Swipe Drive” to collect food donations.
Amazon Smile can help you find and donate items online. Many hunger relief organizations have set up an Amazon Wish List that will provide you with a list of items they want and need. Items you purchase from the list will be delivered directly to the organization of your choice. By typing words like “hunger relief” or “food” in the search bar, Amazon Smile will provide you with a list of related organizations. Please note, to access the charity wishlist, you will need to be signed in to your Amazon Smile account.
We hope you use this information to strengthen our communities through food. Thank you for taking the time to read and learn more about where you can donate food near you. Together, we can make a difference in someone’s life.