You can think of the relationship between a food bank and a food pantry like a chain: a food bank gives food to food pantries, and then food pantries give food directly to clients, the community. We all work together to ensure that no one goes hungry!
Let’s break it down…
Here at South Michigan Food Bank, we store millions of pounds of food in our 30,200 square foot warehouse! We source and gather food — some purchased, some donated — and distribute it to our 335 partner agencies. These partner agencies (i.e. — food pantries) acquire this food by having it delivered by one of our drivers or by picking it up from our warehouse.
At the Food Bank, we also create and design new food programs and then bring in our partner agencies to help implement them in each county! This is how we started our Fresh Food Distributions (FFDs) and BackPack Program!
Partner Agencies — Food Pantries, FFDs, & More
Food pantries get face-to-face interactions with clients as they provide food to those who need it! Our agency network is made up of churches, schools, or other nonprofits in our eight counties who want to help feed their neighbors. The food they hand out is from our Food Bank but can sometimes include food from other sources, like direct donations from their community or congregation.
Here at South Michigan Food Bank, we realized there was a need in the Battle Creek area surrounding our distribution center. So, in the fall of 2019, we started our very own pantry out of our warehouse! With the help of great volunteers, we serve every Tuesday, 3–5pm. We love meeting our clients and seeing the direct impact the work we do has on the community.
Food pantries aren’t our only distributions. We run other programs, like Fresh Food Distributions, to get food into the hands of those who need it. Just like pantries, we partner with churches, schools, and nonprofits in the community to operate these sites.
We consider a client to be anyone in need of food. We don’t place restrictions on who can and can’t come to our pantries and other distributions. If you need food, you are welcome. Many of our clients visit our distributions so that they can allocate the money they might have spent on food to other necessities and bills; this extra bit of food can help make ends meet! The fresh food we give out at distributions is especially important — cost, limited access in rural areas, lack of transportation, and quick expiration dates deter some of our clients from purchasing them. We’re so excited to be able to help them supplement their meals with fresh, nutritious food so that they don’t have to make sacrifices!