Food pantries often run into financial crisis because they have to buy food when it is not donated. They also shoulder the costs associated with paying for staff and building space to store and distribute the food. Charitable fund-raising events and grants are the main source of income for many food banks. Writing a grant for a food pantry is similar to writing any type of grant requesting financial assistance. A successful food pantry grant presents the information in the order the grant application specifies.

Write a one- to two-page cover letter highlighting the key reasons that the grant agency should fund your food pantry. The cover letter grabs the attention of the reader and is the most important part of the proposal. In a concise letter format, include the food pantry’s mission statement, background information and recent achievements. Sum up by relating your proposed food program to the funder’s current charitable interests. Include contact information and your signature.

Fill out the grant application and identify any information the funding agency outlines for inclusion in your grant proposal. The project description is the main part of the grant proposal and must state what you want your program to accomplish; for example, that the food bank hopes to serve 200 more people than it currently serves as well as offer assistance to other food banks that are in need. Go into detail about the project description, why your food pantry is a community asset, who will benefit from the future funds, and how many people you currently serve. The project description has to reinforce everything you wrote in your cover letter.

Write a detailed budget to show the funders what you plan to do with the money; clearly label each expense. The budget is another way to sell your food bank proposal because it explains what you need in numbers. Emphasize how much it will cost to begin your new food drive campaign by your projected date. Detail costs such as personnel, office supplies, travel, building maintenance, and fund-raising campaign advertising.

Write a one-page executive summary; the grant summary and the cover letter are different in that the summary formally states all the reasons that the funding agency should fund your food pantry. Sum up in one sentence which program you are applying to and the amount of money you are seeking. Summarize in a paragraph why your food pantry is qualified for the grant money. Make reference to the budget, and write an inspirational closing paragraph about how the grant money will make a difference to your charity and the community it serves.


Do not fall into using jargon to show that you have knowledge about the funding agency and your subject matter; do not try to impress the funding agency with words.

Assemble a board of directors to review the grant proposal. Include board members' names with their professional affiliations as the last page in the proposal.