75+ Facts About Food Banks In America That Will Make You Think | Kidadl


75+ Facts About Food Banks In America That Will Make You Think

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A food bank is a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to needy and poor people generally through intermediaries.

Food banking has spread around the world since the '80s. The world’s first food bank, St. Mary's Food Bank, was established in the United States in 1967.

According to America’s hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, more than 54 million Americans struggle with food insecurity. As hunger is increasing in number, so too are the local food bank users. Over 30 countries are represented, with active food bank groups working under the drolly of 'The Global Food Banking Network'. These include Russia, India, Taiwan, Colombia, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Guatemala, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and the UK.

The food distribution generally goes between soup kitchens and food pantries. However, food pantries and food banks are not the same thing. A food bank is a kind of a bank or storage area where it collects and distributes food to hunger-relief charities. A food pantry is a member of a food bank working as an arm to serve households in areas of high need. A food pantry is a common sight in America, as the 2015 records suggest there were more than 15,083 food pantries.

Most of the food banks provide edibles to families, children, and senior citizens that cannot afford food. The most important social safety net in the US is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which fights against hunger. SNAP ensures that all the needy get their benefits and enough to eat.

Food serving organizations not only provide edibles but also necessities such as laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products, and diapers. The employees and volunteers keep a list of things that people need on a regular basis.

What is a food bank?

Food banks play a pivotal role in supporting and keeping up the local food system. Here are some interesting facts that you must know:

  • It is an aggregator and/or non-profit organization that works in every particular region to find potential food suppliers.
  • It provides food access to about 42.2 million Americans who suffer from hunger.
  • They also coordinate with many lunch programs and activities of households that serve nutritious food that people cannot afford.
  • It is also a misconception that food banks strictly provide food to people experiencing hunger and insecurity.
  • It serves low-income families, insecure individuals, and many more.
  • Local food banks in the US rely on schemes that voluntarily redistribute surplus food to needy people.
  • This redistribution of leftover food not only helps survive millions of children and adults, but also puts a stop to the wastage of food.
  • There are thousands of food banks operating around the world, but with many different models.
  • Some of them work as front-line models that donate food directly to the hungry, whilst some of them operate with a warehouse model that supplies mediators such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and other front-line organizations.
  • The standard model for food banks in the United States is the warehouse model, which provides services offered by food pantries.
  • Food banks are often run by charities through voluntarism, which provides work to the unemployed and education, especially on civil rights.
  • In the United States, the basic source of food includes food from leftovers from for-profit companies.
  • Other sources are the general public, food drives, and government programs that buy and give out excess farm products.
  • Food banks are basically responsible for acquiring, sorting, storing, and supplying food items to the local food bank.
  • Most of the food donations do not accept fresh produce; the food banks mostly prefer packaged or canned products due to health and hygiene issues, though there are exceptions.
  • Households serving meals to people are well tested and expiry checked before distribution.
  • Food banks could also be called profit food distributors as some of the food banks charge a maintenance fee to meet the cost of food storage and transportation.
  • However, these organizations face most of the challenges in the summertime, specifically in the regions where students are given regular free meals during term time.

Food Insecurity

The books of American history are filled with iconic images and stories of America’s struggles against hunger. Here are some facts about food insecurity:

  • Food insecurity is the lack of constant access to food for a healthy life, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Hunger and insecurity are closely related but with different conceptions.
  • It is concerned with the lack of financial resources for food and other necessities at the household level, which closely relates to poverty.
  • It is also believed that people living above the poverty line do face the insecurity of food.
  • In the US, the majority of people experience food insecurity.
  • Surprisingly, the U.S. reports 50 million people living in hunger.
  • About 60% of the population says that they’re struggling to provide food to their families during the pandemic of 2020.
  • Insecurity began many years ago, but the pandemic exaggerated the existing problems.
  • A few of them also say that they haven’t seen such insecurity in the United States since the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
  • According to federal assistants, about 35 million Americans, including approximately 11 million children living in households, were insecure even before the pandemic.
  • Reports also say that one out of every five families suffers from food insecurity and is in search of food banks.
  • With the loss of jobs, illness, and business closures during the pandemic, millions of Americans faced food insecurity. Food banks felt most of the pressure.
  • 72% of the children’s households were served by its local food banks.
  • People living in rural areas face a higher risk of food insecurity.
  • About 15% of the rural population faces hunger and starvation.
  • Certainly, this insecurity is closely related to other systemic challenges like chronic and acute health problems, low wages, poverty, high medical costs, and many more.
  • To reduce such insecurity in the US, many food banks work day and night.
  • In addition, many federal programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are helping with food assistance in the US.
Facts About Food Banks In America That Will Make You Think

Feeding America

At least 371 organizations exist across the country that fulfills the basic role of food banks by providing perishable or non-perishable food to food-insecure people.

  • America’s largest hunger-relief organization, is called Feeding America.
  • It is a United States-based non-profit organization that feeds more than 46 million people.
  • They do this through a network of more than 200 food banks in their day-to-day operations.
  • The organization was started by John van Hengel in 1979 when he began volunteering at a local soup kitchen.
  • He started to actively solicit unwanted food from local gardens, grocery stores, and more which led him to create the nation’s first food-serving organization in Phoenix- St. Mary's Food Bank.
  • In 2001, it became the nation's largest food rescue organization by merging with America’s Second Harvest.
  • The organization’s name was renamed Feeding America in the year 2008.
  • The organization includes over 63,000 agencies, 41% of kitchen programs, 66% of pantries, and 11% of shelter programs with no paid staff.
  • Since its formation, 'Feeding America' has helped reduce the number of food-insecure people.
  • It distributes at least 2.5 billion lb (1.1 billion kg) of food every year.
  • In September 2013, the organization launched Hunger Action Month to raise awareness about food insecurity and get help from as many people as possible.
  • 72% of food banks feel they are unable to meet the needs of their communities.
  • The Foodbank supplies food to more than 37 million Americans each year. That includes 14 million children and 3 million seniors.
  • In 2014, Feeding America also launched the Meal Connect platform for people to donate food directly to local food banks and pantries from grocery stores, caterers, and restaurants.
  • It also helps in increasing the efficiency of food donation and reducing food waste.
  • Feeding America not only provides access to nutritious food but is also an equal opportunity employer.
  • It employs people with the ambition to end hunger in the US.
  • It has been served for 40 years now, with each meal weighing roughly 1.2 lb. (0.5 kg).
  • Food banks working under Feeding America supply food to 3 million seniors and 14 million children every year.
  • It works to educate the general population of states, which keeps them informed about food insecurity and its impacts on the nation’s economy.
  • Most of the donations organizations receive are taken in non-cash mode.
  • It has also introduced a platform where donations from citizens are converted into meals for many.
  • Therefore, with every $1 donation, the organization provides up to four full hot meals to each person.

Shocking Facts About Food Banks In America

After the financial crisis of 2007, pandemic 2020 tore the US apart, which led to the loss of jobs and households, illness, and food insecurity. Here are some shocking facts:

  • Four out of 10 Americans say that they have experienced food insecurity for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Feeding America also estimated that if the unemployment rate comes down to 10.5%, one in six people will face food insecurity.
  • If the poverty rate goes above 14%, then 50 million people will be food insecure in the United States.
  • The New York-based food bank, City Harvest, spends about $10 million on the purchase of food.
  • It not only works as a food bank but also conducts several food assistance programs, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Farmers to Families Food Boxes.
  • It is also believed that households that had higher rates of food insecurity included 20% of households with children.
  • If you roughly calculate the American data, there are more than 15,083 food pantries in the US.
  • Besides, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service accesses 1.9 billion lb (8.6 billion kg) of meals through the National School Lunch Program.
  • Despite such programs, many food banks believe that they are unable to adequately meet the needs and solve hunger issues.
  • Also, about 60% of the kids from low-income families say that they go to school on an empty stomach.
  • A kid that is hungry will not be able to study, which also weakens their educational foundation.
  • To solve hunger issues, the government has also designed the Food Stamp Program to help low-income households buy edibles from any grocery store that accepts food stamps and improve nutrition and health.
  • This is because 60% of Americans suffer from the dilemma of choosing between buying groceries or paying service bills.
  • Not only households, but 48% of American college students also fight hunger.
  • Because of long-standing racial injustice, especially in black communities, they experienced hunger, unemployment, and poverty at a higher rate than whites.
  • According to a USDA survey, about 5.1 million people, or about half the national average, are found to be losing weight due to starvation.
  • As stated before, any individual can become a user of the hunger-relief organization, but to avail of SNAP benefits, one has to be below the poverty line.
  • According to the American census, about 37 million people lived in poverty in 2020.
  • Also, before the pandemic, the program provided about nine meals through the food pantry.
Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

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