Feeding America reports that its member agencies provide emergency food assistance to about 5.7 million people each week, an increase of 27 percent over the 2010 numbers. Results from Feeding America’s 2010 survey of its 33,500 food pantries shows that 88 percent of those organizations rely solely on volunteers. Grants for nonprofit food banks support operational and administrative costs, provide grants of food for distribution, help with the purchase of special dietary items and fill the gaps when individual donations lag.
The United States federal government provides grants directly to local nonprofits and to state agencies for redistribution locally. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides grants to food banks through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants program. The USDA also provides food to states for redistribution to food banks. U.S. Housing and Urban Development provides the Community Development Block Grant annually to states, which may use the funds to benefit low-income communities, including the support of crisis services such as food banks. States determine how block grants are used.
State government agencies provide grants to local food banks, often redistributing federal funds. The Idaho Food Bank Grant, which was established by the Idaho State Legislature, provides grants of $500 to $5,000 for hunger relief services in Idaho’s communities. In Texas, the state’s Department of Agriculture operates the Surplus Agricultural Grant Program, also called Texans Feeding Texans, which provides grants to the Texas Food Bank Network for its support of 18 food banks across the state. Many states have similar statewide food bank networks.
Many corporate foundations include hunger and poverty as a focus area for grantmaking. Corporate foundations often limit their giving to communities in which they operate facilities. Corporations that give nationally often do so through regional or state offices. The Sarah Lee Foundation, whose focus areas include food-related programs and food banks, provides grants to nonprofit organizations in communities where the Sarah Lee Corporation operates facilities. The Walmart Foundation State Giving Program provides grants starting at $25,000 for hunger relief projects.
Community foundations are able to respond quickly to local conditions. Community foundations manage several funds, charitable foundations and individual donor accounts and are able to leverage many resources to support various organizations and causes. In 2008 the Marin County Community Foundation in California, awarded $250,000 to 11 food banks to address increased need for help in the community. The Cape Coral Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant in 2007 to a local food bank.