6 Food Banks Helping Americans In Need

Despite America's enormous prosperity, many of its people still struggle with hunger. Food banks can play an important role in combating this problem, providing healthy meals and supplies where they're needed most, as well as creating advocacy and education campaigns to mobilize community action. The organizations profiled here, listed in no particular order, offer assistance to those with difficulty finding enough to eat.

Beginning our list at #1 is the Maryland Food Bank, a non-profit organization fighting hunger throughout its home state. Its network of community and organizational partners brings groceries and meals to people in need, through outlets like pantries in local schools, summer nutrition programs, and delivery initiatives for communities with access challenges. Its FoodWorks Culinary Training Program lets low-income individuals build job skills while preparing healthy meals for distribution to the hungry.

The Maryland Food Bank organizes nutrition education events like its HEART Markets for young people, and its SNAP Outreach program helps qualifying individuals register for hunger relief benefits. The group also creates awareness campaigns highlighting the prevalence of food insecurity, with efforts including its interactive statewide Hunger Map and the One Maryland project, which shares stories from real people who've faced hunger themselves.

Following up at #2 is Roadrunner Food Bank, an alliance of local organizations bringing relief to tens of thousands of hungry people across New Mexico each week. This group's targeted initiatives distribute food to children, families, and low-income seniors, much of it rescued from farms or supermarkets where it would otherwise go to waste. Other programs support nutritional health by providing supplemental produce, or offer relief in the wake of natural disasters.

The Second Chances Job Training Program at Roadrunner provides paid internships for individuals who've struggled to find employment, and the organization runs an outreach program to help those in need sign up for public assistance benefits. The Food Bank also works to educate the public about the reality of scarcity, through warehouse tours, research efforts like the Hunger in America report, and testimonials from its clients.

At #3 we have Food In Need of Distribution, a Southern California organization dedicated to relieving hunger. With the help of local partner groups and volunteers, FIND shares crucial supplies with struggling residents of the Coachella Valley region, and its Community Mobile Market Distributions bring groceries directly to under-served neighborhoods. The group also runs the Kids Summer Club, providing food for children who normally rely on school-based reduced price meals.

FIND 's CalFresh Outreach initiative helps connect low-income families with support services, and its advocacy work highlights the need for programs to fight hunger. The group shares inspirational stories from those who've experienced food insecurity, and celebrates donors, volunteers, and allies with projects like its Friends of FIND spotlight series.

Next up at #4 is The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which supplies independent pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout its region, as well as delivering groceries directly to low-income communities. The group's Brown Bag: Food for Elders program brings supplies to residents of local senior centers, and its nutrition department offers free workshops on healthy eating, shopping, and cooking on a budget.

In partnership with The Holyoke Health Center, The Food Bank helps individuals struggling with food insecurity to find assistance and resources, and its SNAP outreach efforts aid eligible individuals and families in signing up for benefits. The organization advocates in defense of support services for the state's needy residents, and its networking program The Kitchen Cabinet provides opportunities for young professionals to develop leadership skills, by collaborating on programs to fight hunger.

Coming in at #5 is the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, a nonprofit bringing meals and groceries to the region's hungry residents. This organization supplies food pantries and other local outlets, magnifying the impact of monetary donations through bulk purchasing, as well as collecting and distributing in-kind donations. It administers specialty programs like The Community Feed at Tidewater Community College, a learning space that also offers nutritional support for students.

The Foodbank operates initiatives addressing the needs of vulnerable populations like children and seniors. Examples include its BackPack Program, which provides healthy groceries for elementary students to take home, and the Mobile Pantry for clients lacking convenient access to a relief agency. The group also offers support for community garden programs and runs summer meal services for kids. The Foodbank works to educate the community about nutritional insecurity, providing research reports and personal stories from those affected.

We'll finish with #6, Harry Chapin Food Bank. Named to honor the charitable legacy of the popular singer and songwriter, it is the largest hunger-relief network in Southwest Florida, with a service area spanning five counties. Its Fulfill initiative distributes groceries directly to children and families in under-served neighborhoods, while the Senior Feeding Program provides elders in need with kits of easy-to-prepare food items.

The Harry's Helpings initiative addresses childhood hunger by offering boxes of non-perishable food to struggling families, and the In-School Pantry Program supports education and wellness by distributing groceries within schools. Along with donation drives and monetary gifts, HCFB sources many of its supplies from Rescue Programs that collect excess retail or agricultural stock, reducing waste while feeding those in need.