I have to admit—I did not completely understand the difference between a “food pantry” and a “food bank” when I applied for my job at The River. After working here for almost a year now, I frequently hear people use the terms interchangeably. While both types of organizations are dedicated to feeding those in need, there are important distinctions between the two.
A food pantry:
- Distributes food and other products directly to people facing hunger
- Purchases food and receives food donations from food banks, food and grocery manufacturers, retailers, and food drives
- Needs volunteers to help prepare and serve hot meals, as well as assist clients with selecting free groceries and clothing
- Serves local households
A food bank:
- Collects and stores food and other products that are then distributed to food pantries
- Donates (or sells for a very discounted rate) bulk quantities of food to hunger-relief organizations
- Needs volunteers to help sort and package large amounts of food
- Serves a wide network of food pantries, charities and meal programs
By working together, we will end hunger and build a stronger community.