Difference Between a Food Pantry and a Food Bank

by Laurie Lanehart
Share food, share life.

A food bank is a place or warehouse where food items are stored to be redistributed to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. A food pantry, on the other hand, is where people in need can go to get food.

Churches or Faith Organizations


Food pantries are generally run by churches or faith-based organizations.

Nonprofit Organization

Food banks are often run by nonprofit organizations or charities.

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Food Shelters

Canned tomatoes

Food banks are sometimes also referred to as food shelters as they keep food that is sent to not only the homeless shelters but also day-care centers, after-school programs, and elder-care programs.

Private Donations

Variety of preserved foods

A food pantry may receive a portion of their food from a food bank, but most of its food comes from private donations from an affiliated church or faith-based organization.

Clothing and Household Goods

Winter clothing can be donated at some food pantries.

In addition, a food pantry may distribute clothing and other household items.

About the Author

Laurie Lanehart started writing in the early 1980s with a teen column for a paper in the Minneapolis area. She holds a degree in culinary arts and currently resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she is a member of the Garland Writers Guild.

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