Food Bank Day
Food Bank Day is the first Friday in September
Food banks are invaluable resources to people who face food insecurity, an inability to reliably access affordable and nutritious food due to monetary costs or other causes. Food banks are “funded” by for-profit businesses that donate extra food to food pantries and by citizens who make charitable donations. They’re especially important in America and in other countries with inadequate welfare systems.
National Food Bank Day was created by St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona to promote the fight against hunger, encouraging people to volunteer and donate to local food pantries. St. Mary’s Food Bank was the world’s first food bank, formed in 1967, and continues to serve those in need. John van Hengel, St. Mary’s founder, created the concept of food banking after running into a woman who regularly rummaged in grocery store garbage bins for food for her children. She suggested that there should be a place where food could be stored for people to take, like a bank that stores money for future use, rather than being discarded in garbage cans. Hengel created a national food bank organization in 1979 after the growth in food banks across the nation, and the organization is now commonly known as “Feeding America,” the largest domestic hunger relief program.
Here are facts about food banks and their impact from dosomething.org:
- Hunger in American exists for over 50 million people.
- 34% of all households served by Feeding America have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
- Food bank network members of Feeding America supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors.
- Across the Feeding America network of over 63,000 agencies, 66% of pantries, 41% of kitchen programs, and 11% of shelter programs have no paid staff, relying entirely on volunteers.
- 72% of food banks do not feel as though they are able to adequately meet the needs of their communities without adjusting the amount of food distributed.
- There are roughly 15,083 food pantries in America as of 2015.
How Food Bank Day Unites People through Donations and Assistance
Donate to your local food pantry on National Food Bank Day to celebrate and support food assistance programs.
Here is a list of some of the most-needed food items by food banks:
- Canned seafood or chicken, preferably with pop-up pull tabs
- Canned soups or stews, preferably low sodium
- Canned vegetables
- Canned fruit, preferably no added sugar or packed in 100% fruit juice
- Whole grain cereal
- Peanut butter
- Cooking oil
- Other nutritious food, such as granola bars or fruit snacks, preferably low-sugar and whole grain
- Toiletries, such as toilet paper, toothbrushes, or diapers
Be sure to check your local pantry’s restricted items list. Most food banks will not accept rusted, dented, or unlabeled cans, products in glass jars, dairy products, fresh vegetables, candy, or sugary drinks.
There might be a local food donation box at your local grocery store, or travel to your local food bank to donate in person.
If you have the means, donate a monetary sum to your local food bank: even just a few dollars can have a large impact, as food banks can buy exactly what they need for families in need who come to its doors, including unstable items that can’t be accepted as donations, such as fresh vegetables or meat or baby formula.
And you can always volunteer: most food banks rely entirely on volunteer staff.
If you want to double your donations, try hosting a food drive! Enlist family, friends, and your community’s help. Choose your collecting days or week and spread the word on social media. Set-up your donation boxes at a local school, church, library, or grocery store, and make the donation site fun or themed! Ask for donations food banks need the most, make it themed or provide an incentive, such as a prize for the person who donates the most. Schedule a pick-up date with your local food bank and share your results on social media!