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5 Steps to Starting a Food Pantry in Your Neighborhood

By: Brittany Engelmann-- 2016-08-08 7:00 am --

Hunger is a devastating issue, afflicting roughly 14 percent of U.S. citizens. While most large cities have at least one food bank, many smaller towns do not, resulting in some low-income families having no way to access the food they need. Endeavoring to launch your own local food pantry is a compassionate and ambitious undertaking, and provided you approach it tactically, one that can be accomplished in a matter of months.


Step 1:  Find a location.

Before embarking on the rest of your journey, you first need to find a location to operate out of. It can’t simply be done out of your home, as you’ll be considered a food service organization and will need to uphold local health codes. Check around in your area for low-cost rentals that could serve as a location. Alternately, you could opt to collaborate with local churches or schools to establish a pop-up food bank, which will enable you to launch a food bank at minimal cost.

Step 2: Obtain all licensing and permits.

The requirements will vary from county to county, but you will need to fulfill certain legal requirements in order to distribute food to the public. You’ll also need to become established as a nonprofit, which in itself is a fairly simple process. The specific rules for registering as a nonprofit may vary from state to state, so it’s wise to check with a legal or tax professional in your region to ensure you abide by all necessary rules.

Step 3: Find grants and donors.

To ensure the food bank is a success, you’ll need a lot of donations in the form of bulk food, money, and supplies. You’ll also need to apply for grants to ensure your food bank can continue to receive proper funding over the years.

Step 4: Spread the word.

In order to secure volunteer labor and a steady supply of donations, you’ll need to be marketing your food bank throughout your region. Food banks typically rely on a combination of digital and grassroots marketing, and it helps to create promotional materials like brochures, flyers, and business cards.

Step 5: Find a reliable wholesale supplier.

While you’ll likely be collecting a lot of your food items from donations, you’ll still need to purchase some food and supplies to fill the gaps. Provided you’re securing grant money, this shouldn’t be a problem, but you’ll still want to source the lowest prices, so you can stretch your money as far as possible. Find a reliable wholesale supplier to partner with, where you can purchase large packages of bulk nonperishable food items and have them shipped directly to your facility.

Starting a local food bank is a fulfilling and generous undertaking, and one that will greatly benefit your community for years to come. In order to ensure you’re making your grant and donation money extend as far as possible, it helps to partner alongside wholesale suppliers that offer bulk packages at affordable prices. At DollarDays, we offer an extensive line of nonperishable food items that are ideal for food banks and nonprofits. Click here to begin browsing our product selection today.