• Elizabeth Gilkey

What is the Difference Between a Food Bank and Food Pantry?

Updated: Apr 4, 2019

So what is the difference between a food bank and food pantry? It's easy to get the two confused.

A food bank is a non-profit that safely stores millions of pounds of food that will soon be delivered to local food programs, like a food pantry. Food banks are all different sizes. The FRFB is one of seven Feeding America food banks in Virginia. We are the smallest of the seven, feeding approximately 33,000 people per year. The others are Capital Area Food Bank of DC, Feed More of Richmond, Virginia Peninsula Food Bank, Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia, Feeding America Southwest Virginia, and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Regardless of size, the food they store is donated from local neighbors, retailers, grocery stores, and restaurants. Feeding America also helps connect our network to additional resources, including food. 

A food pantry is a distribution center where hungry families can receive food. Supplied with food from a food bank, pantries feed hundreds of people per week! There are many different types of pantries. The FRFB stocks the shelves of pantries in schools, churches, community organizations, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens.


Many communities, including ours, have barriers that make getting food difficult – such as rural communities and low access areas. These barriers are overcome with our Mobile Pantry--a pantry on wheels. At our 12 mobile pantry sites, food is unloaded from our refrigerated truck and displayed on folding tables farmer’s market-style.


Food banks are constantly working to create innovative ways to feed our community. This would be impossible without the pantries that are our partners--they are truly the hands and feet of our vision.


Waite, Tori. “What Is the Difference between a Food Bank and Food Pantry?” Feeding America, 20 Feb. 2019, www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-blog/what-difference-between-food-bank-and-food-pantry.


*(This post is taken in part from an article on Feeding America's Hunger Blog)


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