There are more than two hundred food banks operating in the United States, and there is as great a need for them now as there ever has been. Together these food banks serve more than sixty-three thousand agencies, which provide meals or food to those in need. The Federal government estimates that these food banks distribute more than 2.5 billion pounds of food to the public every year.
Food banks are distribution centers that store, repackage and distribute contributed food to various organizations and charities. The food comes from many different sources, both locally and nationally. They rely very heavily on large quantities of donated surplus food, but individual contributions, and the contributions from food drives, are also important.
The warehoused food is distributed to pantries, shelters, and other organizations that feed the hungry. In many communities, food is also delivered directly to people through mobile food programs. While local charities such as soup kitchens and faith-based missions receive donations from private citizens or organizations, food banks are often their primary source of food staples. They usually receive food in bulk and then repackage it for delivery, and have distribution strategies similar to those of any other distribution-related businesses. The organizations that receive food from food banks are usually required to demonstrate they meet specific criteria in order to become eligible to receive the food, like proving that they provide meals or food at no cost to recipients, and that they maintain an ongoing program.
Kenneth G Rare Coins, in Mishawaka, Indiana, is a supporter of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, and maintains a link to the food bank on its web site. In 2014 alone, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana distributed more than seven million pounds of food to member agencies throughout the region.