There are many things that cause joblessness and there are just too many people for too few jobs – hundreds of people clamoring for one humble job.

Now we have got the coronavirus pandemic which has increased joblessness even more as well as wage reductions. It is not unusual in these days to see people standing in queues to get some sort of government grant or for emergency food assistance.

Without food banks and a food shelf across the United States, many populations of people would be staring starvation in the face.

Food drop-off areas a growing need

The demand for food drop off areas is growing even more in recent months because of the world’s economic and health care crisis. In the United States alone, the death toll is more than in any other country in the world and still climbing. With the economy having been shut down and people out of work, the phrase ‘free food’ and ‘free groceries’ scarcely seems like a nicety, but rather as a downright critical part of humanity.

A food shelf is aware that children can scarcely learn when they are starving, and a meal delivery service or food pick up site plays an important role in seeing that needy children have access to a school meal. Nutrition staff will prepare the food and a city’s park staff for instance will help volunteers and deliver. Because of the coronavirus in recent months, the states have created a new food benefit for children who qualify for free meals. If you as a family are in need you can apply for free meals online.

For instance, in Charlottesville, in some of the city schools, they deliver breakfast and lunch bags to children. Parents can go to the locations that are closest to them, but they actually do not even have to be present for their child to receive a bag if they have registered online.

Relied for when you can’t be sure of your next meal

A food shelf spells relief for many people who do not have any kind of assurance where their next meal will come from. In the USA, the Feeding America network just as an example has some 200 food banks as well as 60 000 food shelves or food pantries that provide food in all different kinds of communities in all 50 states.

These food banks and food shelves can in all likelihood be run by the same organization, or they also operate individually. Both of them perform essential functions in the fight against starvation.

Food shelves are non-profit organizations that distribute their much-needed food to those who might face starvation were it not for them.

● What is the difference between a food bank and a food shelf?

One food shelf is not quite the same as another food shelf and while some prepare food and then hand it out directly to the needy, another food shelf might collect all kinds of different food and then hand it out as a food package to the hungry.

Food banks of which there are different sizes are not-for-profit and they take in and store all kinds of food generously donated by restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and retailers in preparation to be delivered to food programs such as a food shelf or food pantry. You can imagine, there are massive delivery programs to get the foods into the different communities. 

Their similarity lies in the fact that both the food bank and food shelf act as a link between donors and people suffering from poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, optimizing the available resources and sensitizing the community by spreading the spirit of charity. However, food banks usually do not deliver food directly to people in need, but rather to social assistance institutions that are in contact with the groups that need it the most.

● How does a food shelf work?

A food shelf is a distribution center where the hungry can get food. Simply put, a food shelf differs from a food bank as it provides food directly to those who are hungry where the food bank distributes food to these food shelves or food pantries.

Sometimes it is not just food but other important resources too such as information on food and nutrition, health screening, and even some basic school supplies. They are supplied with food from the food banks to feed people week after week.

A food shelf is different too and sometimes you will find a food shelf operating from within the grounds of a school. So at a food shelf, trucks of food packed in boxes is distributed to the needy.

● What is the purpose of a food shelf?

These food shelves are found in different communities and there are many in each of the different states. They serve the community’s hunger needs directly.

A food shelf has staff who distribute the food to certain people. The food will have been packed by volunteers prior to distribution. Then again,  some items are packed onto shelves and people are able to choose items off the shelves. Sometimes it can even be people having a list of food items and they choose items from the list which are then delivered to them. The most important and known sources for food shelves are food banks.

How the food bank works

A food bank takes in huge food donations from large corporations and manages the federal TEFAP program. This is The  Emergency Food Assistance Program. The USDA makes commodity foods available to States who then distribute them to low-income people.

This federal food distribution program supports food banks or soup kitchens that distribute meat, vegetables, fruits, and grains to states with high unemployment and poverty rates. In fact, both funds and food are distributed according to a statutory formula. This TEFAP aid makes up just a proportion of the food and funds available to emergency feeding organizations. TEFAP also plays a role in disaster response.

 Food banks buy in bulk, supporting many food shelves and making use of their co-op buying powers to get the best prices. A local food shelf will buy food from a food bank so as to get the healthiest food at the lowest cost. Donated food is then provided to food shelves from the food bank.

Local food shelves provide a wide variety of items such as a market where people come for some groceries. It is not all just about collecting food, but these markets sometimes have other programs offered to make it more festive.

●  Is a food shelf free?

 Yes, a food shelf can be in a regular location or it can be a mobile distribution. These food shelves are so important as often they are the only source of free food in the community.

● Can you just walk into a food shelf?

·         You first have to find out where the food selves are.

·         Make use of a search tool to find food pantries in your area. This is because certain areas only see a traveling food shelf at a certain time of month.

·         Arrive early so you get items you need where there are limited quantities.

·         You can just arrive and help yourself to free food. You have to have the right documentation – your ID and proof of address are most times required.

● Where does a food shelf get their food?

A food shelf gets its food from a food bank.

● What type of food can you find at a food shelf?

If you are fighting hunger, you would not be too critical about the food you can find at a food shelf as without their help you would not have any source of food in any case, so you should be very grateful.

A food shelf accepts all different kinds of food from private people, hotels, restaurants and corporations. In fact, every year, billions of pounds of safe, edible food and grocery products are removed from circulation to be destroyed. It can be meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, baked goods, water, or cold drinks.

 Of course, there is a challenge for food shelves to provide healthy foods, and so while they are looked upon as vital food sources to address food insecurity, they can always be the providers of fresh, healthy food.

They often receive donations of older, less-healthy options, and this includes tins or packaged food products. The idea is to never take in food that is past its sell-by-date. They want to provide healthy foods to build strong immunities that can stave off illness

There are quite a few food pantries that only distribute food to hungry people a few times a month and they often do not have the refrigeration needed to stock fresh produce.

If you are unable to contribute food, they accept monetary donations as well.

The Food Hub

When it comes to a food hub, finding access to distribution into some of the important markets can pose a challenge for small scale producers and this is where a food hub comes into the picture.

A regional food hub is an organization that  manages the distribution of food products that have been identified from local as well as regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy the retail and wholesale demand.

The functions of a food hub also differ but include among others, brokerage services, season extension, maintaining producer and consumer connections, taking part in the sharing of information and providing market access for local producers.

These hubs do not replace farmers’ markets but they are beneficial to producers who do not have the time to sell at farmers’ markets.

Feeding America

Feeding America has always been an important service, but since the coronavirus is has become nothing short of imperative as people lose their jobs, their income, and their lives.

There is mercifully a large network of food banks and food shelves across the United States of America which are essentially both warehousing and distribution operations. Once they have their food stores, they deliver food to thousands of distribution centers and these are non-profit charitable organizations.

People do not realize that food banks do not only offer food but some of them offer employment opportunities as well. In fact, because of their operations, their distribution networks and their staff, these food banks and food shelves involve  sizable economic benefits.

A selfless service

A food shelf offers selfless service as some of these food pantries serve populations with chronic diseases. In other words, workers are being exposed to all kinds of illnesses but they do it selflessly. However, they are ready still to engage in nutrition-focused food pantry services and to still offer advice on dietary guidelines for disease prevention.

Because of the huge need across the USA, a number of nutrition-focused interventions have been proposed and these range from food labeling to trying to offer the appropriate food to people with dietary needs. It is precisely why both food banks and food shelves need more information on the factors that influence the success of this food collection and food distribution service.

A food shelf may be operated by thousands of nonprofit organizations that are culturally, and religiously diverse, but they all serve one purpose – to ensure both food quantity and food quality during troubling times with the purpose of providing foods as a means for ministry or hunger relief.

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