How are Food Pantries Different From Food Banks? | The River Food Pantry
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Make a Difference Through a Donation to The River Food Pantry

It’s easy to get the terms confused. Food banks and food pantries are both nonprofit organizations but each plays a different role in the fight against hunger.

Food banks solicit, receive, inventory and store food donations. Donations come from a variety of places, including restaurants, retailers, grocery stores and individuals. After initially being stored in a warehouse, bulk quantities of food are donated or sold at a discounted rate to hunger-relief organizations, including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries like The River Food Pantry.

A food pantry’s mission is to feed food-insecure residents within a specific area. Whereas a food bank acts as the supplier, a food pantry serves as the distribution center, ensuring that food gets directly to those who need it. Food pantries purchase food and receive donations from not only food banks, but also food and grocery manufacturers, restaurants, retailers and food drives. To feed more people and help eliminate waste, every week The River also recovers food that would otherwise go to waste from local food retailers.

Food banks are usually self-governing and distribute food to their client organizations once a month or once a week. Many community food pantries are sponsored by local churches or through community partnerships. However, The River is self-governed and allows people to receive groceries once a week via curbside pickup or delivery and curbside meals up to four times a week. As a community-funded organization, The River relies on support from individuals, foundations, businesses, faith communities, and service groups.

Usually clients pick up supplies by visiting the food pantry in person, but pantries have developed additional ways of reaching their clients. Some offer direct delivery services to residents who may be homebound or have limited access to transportation. The River Food Pantry’s mobile programs include River Delivers, MUNCH Mobile Lunch and Food Bridge. We also offer a curbside meal program. There are many ways you can contribute, through food, funds, or offering your time as a volunteer. More information is available here.

ABOUT THE RIVER FOOD PANTRY
The River Food Pantry, serving over 1,000 diverse households each week, is South Central Wisconsin’s busiest food pantry. Our services include free groceries for curbside pickup or delivery, freshly prepared to-go meals, and mobile lunches for children and adults in low-income neighborhoods. More than a food pantry, we build community by offering opportunities to serve, donate, and collaborate. We also partner with local organizations to minimize food waste and improve access to reliable sources of food.  Since opening in 2006, our vision is to achieve a fully nourished community. Learn more about us here.

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