Every community in America is served by a food bank or a food rescue organization that is a member of Feeding America. These are regional nonprofit organizations that exist to channel the food industry’s inventory surpluses and edible errors to food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and similar agencies in order to increase communities’ capacity to adequately address their hunger problem. Food banks are also one of America’s best-kept secrets!
Food banks are veritable gold mines of millions of pounds of good food that your agency or community can tap at will, at no charge or for a per pound handling fee that is just pennies per dollar compared to the value of the food you will be accessing. If you are not sure who or where your area’s Feeding America member is, call (312) 263-2303 or visit www.feedingamerica.org to identify them. If they are located some distance from you, don’t despair! Many have branch warehouses, delivery routes or other ways of serving outlying communities.
Using your local Feeding America member’s donated food instead of store-purchased food is the single most significant change you can make in order to draw down the cost of endIng hunger to levels that you can afford.
For example, in the canned good drives discussion in the previous chapter you saw how someone buying and giving you $10 worth of food will cost them $10 and will result in you having $10 worth of food to give out. By contrast, if they give you the $10 and you then use these funds to cover the cost of drawing food from your area’s Feeding America member, their cost, after taxes, will be only about $7.50. But you could easily end up with as much as $200 worth of food! That is 26 times more buying power— 26 times more food per dollar given and spent for hunger relief.
Food banks and food rescue organizations are not grocery stores that can order food supplies from the food industry at will. Rather, they are food donation seekers who only get what they are lucky enough to get as food companies develop inventory surpluses, have overruns, have products left over after holidays or promotions pass by and by other means. So they won’t always have everything. But “everything” is not necessary to end hunger. If they have as few as 40 different products in inventory, you almost certainly have enough variety available to you to bring ending hunger within reach.
You may recall in the introduction that I claimed you would learn how to end hunger? You just have. Or, more properly, you have just learned how to access enough food to adequately address your community’s food assistance needs. In the remaining chapters you will learn how to optimally employ these food resources in order to achieve that outcome.