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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a food bank?

A place where stocks of food, typically basic provisions and non-perishable items, are stored and distributed to front-line agencies; and usually do not themselves give out food directly to the hungry. After the food is collected, sorted, and reviewed for quality, these food banks distribute it to nonprofit community or government agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and schools. In 2023, Midwest Food Bank began its 20th year providing food and disaster relief.


What's the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

A food bank is the distribution facility for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. A food pantry and other organizations function as the arms that reach out to that community directly.


Where does the food go?

Food is given to a variety of not-for-profit agencies feeding the hungry in counties from Iowa down to Florida. Food is transported to our ten domestic distribution facilities in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas and our two international facilities in Africa and Haiti. Then, every month, the food is given out, always free of charge to local not for profit organizations, including food pantries, shelters, daycare centers, agencies for victims of domestic violence, senior adult centers, soup kitchens, substance abuse and rehabilitation programs, medical daycare facilities, and churches and agencies helping support those in need.


What makes Midwest Food Bank different?

We seek to alleviate hunger and poverty by delivering food and disaster relief free of charge. Our goal is to make a difference in our communities and create volunteer opportunities for all. This is our roadmap to Sharing the Blessings. Unlike some food banks, Midwest Food Bank never charges a fee to the recipient agencies for the food it delivers.


If it is good food, why isn’t it consumed?

Good food isn’t consumed for a variety of reasons. Overbuying, incorrect anticipation of consumer choices, manufacturing and distribution issues, and even weather conditions can have an effect on the amount of food that is leftover. In almost every facet of the food industry, there are overages of edible, nutritious food being wasted.


How is hunger defined?

• The uneasy or painful sensation caused by a prolonged lack of food.
• The recurrent and involuntary lack of access to food.


What is food insecurity?

• Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food.
• Limited or uncertain ability to acquire suitable foods in socially acceptable ways.


Who is hungry?

• Over 50 million people in the United States live in hungry and food-insecure households. More than 16 million of those are children.
• One in six Americans does not have enough food to eat and requires emergency food assistance.
• One in five suburban households face food insecurity.
• Women in food-insecure households frequently are at the greatest risk, depriving themselves of nutritionally adequate foods to make those foods available to their children and husbands.
• One in five children is born into food-insecure households.


Wouldn’t it be more efficient to give food directly to the pantry or shelter?

Because Midwest Food Bank services over 2,200 agencies, serving hundreds of thousands of people each month, more diverse and greater numbers of people can be helped. Additionally, smaller agencies with few resources have an equal opportunity to share in the food Midwest Food Bank procures & distributes.



In an effort to serve more agencies, Midwest Food Bank has several off-site places where agencies can pick up food. They are usually operated out of borrowed warehouse space. Food is delivered to the site for a monthly distribution, and volunteers facilitate it. Remote distributions offer Midwest Food Bank a cost-effective means of expanding our impact and reach. To see a map of our locations and remote distribution sites, click here.


I’m considering making a donation and want to know how my money will be used.

99c of every dollar we raise goes directly into our program. Midwest Food Bank has been awarded four-star status by Charity Navigator. See our full rating by clicking here.

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