NC State Extension

Working With Food Banks and Food Pantries

There are many ways to work with Food Banks (larger, regional facilities with warehouses) and food pantries (locally-based organizations that engage in food distribution direct to clients). For example, there are efforts to get more local food into Food Banks and pantries (through gleaning, or connecting with community and home gardeners), as well as nutrition education opportunities.

Please see the Farm to Food Bank Resource Guide for NC Cooperative Extension for more information about how Cooperative Extension can facilitate local food connections for Food Banks and Food Pantries.

The entire guide can be found here: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/farm-to-food-bank-resource-guide

Or jump to the section you’re interested in:

  1. About this Guide
  2. Introduction: Food Banks and Food Pantries
  3. Direct to Food Bank and Food Pantry Donations
  4. Gleaning
  5. Venison Donation Programs
  6. Extension Master Gardeners and Community/Home Gardens
  7. Food Pantry Produce Markets
  8. 4-H Chicken Donation: Embryology to Harvesting
  9. Reporting your Success in ERS (for Extension only)

In addition, here are some national and North Carolina specific resources to help you connect with and support emergency food providers.

North Carolina Organizations and Resources:

  • North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks This website lists North Carolina’s seven regional food banks. These food banks serve community-based food pantries and soup kitchens, and can help determine how to best donate surplus food.
  • Food Safety for Food Pantries:  This site includes short videos to help guide food pantries on food safety, as well as information about food recalls, standard operating procedures, and signage.
  • Webinar: Enhancing Local Food Access by Strengthening Connections with Food Pantries This webinar introduces viewers to the challenges faced by food pantries and presents an overview of food insecurity in North Carolina. It then presents two different models for increasing donations of local food to food pantries, 1) NC-based Farmer FoodShare’s Donation Station program, which connects donations of produce at farmers’ markets, and 2) AmpleHarvest.org’s online food pantry directory.
  • Food Pantry Nutrition Classes: A Guide for Nutrition Educators: This guide was developed by NC EFNEP and Faithful Families to provide guidance and lessons learned about how to conduct a multi-session nutrition education class at a food pantry setting.

National Organizations and Resources:

  • Safe and Health Food Pantry Project University of Wisconsin Extension has developed this resource to help food pantries assess their facilities and policies in order to create action plans that improve food offerings.
  • The Healthy Food Bank Hub  Feeding America provides a platform of evaluated tools and resources, showcases existing best practices and nutrition initiatives, and engages health and nutrition professionals to help fight hunger while promoting health.
  • Nudges Located on the Healthy Food Bank Hub portal, this video and resource page can be used to help food banks and pantries determine how to set up and promote healthy food in order to increase its utilization. Includes easy and effective strategies!
  • The University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security is a great resource to learn about research and extension efforts that support Food Banks and pantries, including a publication about improving nutrition at food pantries, a program to connect pantries with gardens, and a lot of research about food pantry clients and programs.
  • It Takes More than Food is an interdisciplinary group based in Connecticut that seeks to build food pantry capacity to go beyond food distribution and address the root causes of hunger. They have resources and research to support food pantries in making a shift towards healthy food and client empowerment.

Written By

Photo of Dara Bloom, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDara BloomExtension Local Foods Specialist & Assistant Professor (919) 515-8475 dara_bloom@ncsu.eduAgricultural & Human Sciences - NC State University
Page Last Updated: 4 months ago
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