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What is a food bank?

The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is a member of Feeding America, the national food bank network. Food Banks acquire large donations of edible but unmarketable food from the food industry and distribute it to organizations that feed hungry people.

Can hungry people get food at the Regional Food Bank?

Not directly. The food collected and warehoused at the Regional Food Bank is distributed to qualified 501(c)(3) charities that feed the hungry throughout northeastern New York – organizations such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters. These charities, called member agencies, receive the food from the Regional Food Bank and give it to those in need.

What is the difference between a food bank, food pantry, and soup kitchen?

A food bank solicits, stores and distributes large donations of food, donations that a single food pantry could not accept because of a lack of storage capacity at their facility. Food banks feed the needs of hungry people by distributing the donations they receive to a large number of member agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, meal programs, drug treatment centers, and senior care centers.

A food pantry provides food packages to families that have a place to live, but not enough food. These packages are designed to provide nutritionally balanced meals.

Soup kitchens serve individuals in need of a hot meal, the only meal of the day for many of them. Most soup kitchens serve a full, balanced meal, and some prepare and deliver meals to the homebound, as well.

What type of food is donated to the Food Bank?

Most food donations come from the food industry. There are many reasons why products are donated. They may be mislabeled, overproduced, test -market items and products with short code dates.

The Food Bank also “salvages” products. The dented cans and crumpled boxes that are pushed aside at the grocery store can be cleaned and sorted by volunteers to provide food pantries and soup kitchens with a variety of food and household products. USDA government foods are also donated by the federal government and made available to agencies. We sometimes have to purchase food with donated dollars as well.

Why does the Regional Food Bank accept donations of non-food items?

The Food Bank accepts donations of food and non-food items because both of them help low-income people stretch their limited resources. For example, if parents receive notebooks and pencils along with food while visiting a food pantry, they’ll save money on back-to-school supplies for their children. They’ll be able to use those saved dollars to pay for other necessities, like rent, utilities, or gas for a car. Also, people using SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) can only use them for food. SNAP does not cover purchases of items like soap, shampoo, bathroom tissue, or diapers so these items are always in high-demand at pantries. Finally, if the Food Bank turns down donations of non-food items, those materials will end up in a landfill, which is bad for the environment.

Does the Regional Food Bank accept donations of pet food?

The Food Bank happily accepts vouchers or gift cards for the purchase of pet food so that people in need don’t need to relinquish their furry friends while experiencing hard times.

Vouchers can be from Chewy, PetSmart, Pet Co, or other retailers who provide pet food for delivery or pick up.

Does the Regional Food Bank purchase food?

The Food Bank operates a cooperative buying program for its member agencies, where we purchase needed items in large quantities and then resell the food to the member agencies. Our Coop Program helps supplement our donated food inventory, enabling the Food Bank to meet most of the food needs of its member agencies. Monetary donations to the Regional Food Bank are not used to purchase food, but to underwrite the costs of transporting, storing, and distributing donated food, which is why every dollar donated lets the Regional Food Bank distribute $10 worth of food!

Does the food bank sell food?

The Regional Food Bank does not, and in fact cannot, sell the donated food it receives. Moreover, the local food pantries and soup kitchens cannot charge the hungry people they serve for this food. The Food Bank does ask the agencies that receive food to cooperate in the support of the Food Bank by contributing a shared maintenance fee of 16¢ per pound for about half of the food they receive. Some food, such as produce, is provided to all agencies free of charge.

Where does the food go?

The Regional Food Bank supplies food to such nonprofit organizations as food pantries, senior centers, shelters, after-school programs, soup kitchens, low-income day care centers, and others. These programs turn our food into nutritious, balanced meals for thousands of men, women, and children who otherwise would not get enough to eat. The Food Bank serves about 1,000 member agencies at any given time.

How does the food get to these agencies?

The Regional Food Bank delivers up to 40% of its food to its member agencies. We have trucks that go up to Franklin and Clinton counties in the North Country, east to the borders of Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, west to Delaware and Otsego counties, and south to Orange and Rockland counties. Local agencies also make scheduled visits to our warehouse to pick up food.

Tell me more about these member agencies…

To be members of the Food Bank, agencies must be not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations serving people in need. They must serve free meals or provide free food packages, and have proper facilities for storage, cooking, and food handling. The Food Bank monitors these agencies on a regular basis to assure they handle food in a safe, sanitary manner. Emergency feeding programs (food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters) which are members of the Food Bank provide monthly statistics on the number of people they serve.

Tell me more about your operations…

The Regional Food Bank is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. A volunteer Board of Directors governs the organization. The Regional Food Bank employs a dedicated staff and involves thousands of volunteers in its work to feed hungry people. We have a satellite warehouse operation in Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, called Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, which serves agencies in six counties of the lower Hudson Valley area. We are not a government agency, and in fact, do not receive government money for our day-to-day operations, although we do administer certain government food programs.

What other programs do you have?

The Food Bank operates several programs which provide food for member agencies:

  • Farm
  • Salvage Program – Volunteers sort and repackage dented cans, crushed boxes, and other cosmetically damaged food and grocery products according to guidelines established by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets. This program provides a wide variety of highly desirable food items for agencies, many of which are not available from any other source
  • Co-op Buying Program – Staple items not usually donated are purchased at wholesale prices and re-sold to member agencies, resulting in cost savings and time savings for these agencies
  • USDA Commodities – The Food Bank contracts with New York State to provide federal government commodities to member agencies. These foods are provided to the Food Bank by The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) of USDA. The Regional Food Bank participates in USDA TEFAP and is an equal opportunity provider. Click here for the full non-discrimination statement.
  • Hunger Prevention & Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) – New York State program administered by the Food Bank in its service region. HPNAP provides funds for the Food Bank to supply food and operating support to participating emergency feeding programs
  • Training Programs – The Food Bank offers free seminars on nutrition, food safety, menu planning, and other topics for member agencies, and provides helpful tips and advice through its monthly publication, the Members Guide
  • BackPack Program – the BackPack Program supplies partners with schools to provide chronically hungry children with food on Fridays so they have something nutritious to eat on weekends, when food is often not available at home

Where is the Food Bank?

The Regional Food Bank is located in Latham, New York. Our address is 965 Albany-Shaker Road, Latham, New York 12110. Our phone number is (518) 786-3691, and our fax number is (518) 786-3004.

Can we come see how food banking works?

Yes! We encourage you to come! Seeing how the food is handled will give you a much better idea of how your donations are being used. Just give us a call to set up a tour, and see for yourself how food banking is helping to feed the hungry in your community! Please contact us to set up a tour at 518-786-3691.

How do I find the food pantry nearest to me?

Use the Find Food link on this website, call our Membership Department at 518-786-3691, or send an email to Give us your address, and we’ll find the food pantry nearest you.

Where do you get your funding?

The Regional Food Bank is privately funded through a diversity of revenue sources, including special fundraising events, individual donations, and corporate and foundation grants.

How much of my donation goes toward operations?

91% of every donation goes toward operating costs and 9% goes toward administrative costs (based on 2020 990).

Can a $10 donation make a difference?

Of course! For every donated dollar we distribute $10 worth of food, the equivalent of four meals. So, a $10 donation will allow us to distribute $100 worth of food, or forty meals!

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How can I help?

Volunteer opportunities are available in the warehouse and office, as well as for special events and projects. For more information, visit the Volunteer section of this website or call the Food Bank at (518) 786-3691.

Why should I support the Regional Food Bank?

The Regional Food Bank serves an important mission of feeding hungry people while preventing food waste. It does so in a very efficient and cost-effective manner. Your help is needed because requests for emergency food have been steadily increasing, especially among the working poor. In fact, the working poor comprise the fastest growing segment of people in need of food assistance. Your donation to the Food Bank will go a long way toward alleviating hunger in our community.

How does hunger affect people?

Although we do not see starvation in the United States, hunger and malnutrition are prominent and have significant consequences:

  • Malnourished pregnant women are more likely to have stillborn or low birth-weight babies
  • Inadequately nourished infants and children are apt to have learning problems and more illnesses
  • Adults who are hungry are less energetic and productive, making it difficult to find and keep a job or care for children
  • Malnourished elderly persons are less able to prevent illness and enjoy good health