Charitable food pantries provide vital assistance for poor individuals and families. A food pantry's budget is usually made up of individual donations, some loans and grants. Grants are especially attractive because they are often a stable source of income and do not require repayment. Non-profit organizations like food pantries depend on grants to do everything from keep the lights on to provide services and programs to clients. These can come from a variety of sources, including government, private charitable organizations and corporations.
Community Development Block Grants
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are distributed by state and local governments to local organizations that help solve community problems. The money comes to local governments from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A person or organization starting a food pantry would need to contact the local city or county government to learn how to apply locally for a CDBG grant. They are typically distributed once a year and the application process can be lengthy.
Many states have departments of human services or community development, and often these departments administer state funds in partnership with private charities, including food pantries, to provide public assistance. Grant-seekers need to first find the correct state agency, then learn about the time line and requirements for applying for and receiving grant money for a food pantry.
Several large corporations provide funding and other support for community-based organizations. Many national chains, including Target, Whole Foods, UPS, Kraft Foods and others, support local food banks and other organizations through grants and donations. Sometimes a corporation will have a charitable arm specifically for supporting charities such as food pantries.
Other charities and nonprofit organizations may provide grants for food pantries. These organizations can be as small as local churches or community foundations. Or they can be as large as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports food banks in the Pacific Northwest. The Web site FoundationCenter.org can help grant-seekers connect with foundations that offer grants.
The Food Pantry
The Food Pantry is a nonprofit organization that finances new and existing food pantries in the San Francisco area. The Food Pantry has existed for nearly a decade and offers advice and occasional funding to start-up food pantries. One downside is that funding is available only to organizations in the San Francisco area.