Frequently Asked Questions

It’s one of the most common questions we’re asked.  You may have heard the term “food bank” used to describe many kinds of charities from soup kitchens to emergency food pantries.  However, our role as a Food Bank is bigger than many realize.

We act as a central hub for making large-scale food purchases and soliciting food donations that might otherwise be wasted. In turn, we ensure the food we receive is given away for free to people in need according to strict food safety standards.

We inspect millions of pounds of donated food across the region and then supply hundreds of charitable food pantries, homeless shelters and children programs with foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins and other staples.

We perform routine site visits to each of our partners to ensure food safety standards are met and that food is given to intended recipients.

Food banks and food pantries work very closely together to fight hunger, but they fulfill different roles. A food bank is like a wholesaler; we bring in huge quantities of food to help stock many food pantries. A food pantry is a direct distribution program, where food insecure people can receive free food to help sustain them. The two types of organizations are commonly confused, especially because many food pantries actually have “food bank” in their name.

We supply food to more than 200 charitable feeding programs serving children or individuals in need. The Food Bank also provides direct food assistance to through direct distribution programs. We offer these services in seven counties including: Lee, Macon, Tallapoosa, Chambers, Randolph, Russell and Barbour. Our partners are responsible for determining how the food is distributed to individuals in need.

Together with our partners, we supply food to over 200 food pantries, children programs, group homes and shelters across 7 counties in East Central Alabama so people in need can access emergency food near where they live. We also deliver fresh produce and healthy staples directly to children, seniors, patients, and families at key locations throughout our service area.

You can give food, funds or time to help solve hunger in Alabama.

Hosting a food drive, volunteering to inspect, pack or give out food supplies, bringing attention to the issue of hunger and donating funds all make a difference!

Every dollar you give helps us to provide up to 7 meals to children, seniors, and families right here in our community.

Food donations come in all sizes. If you have a few grocery bags or some small boxes of food that you’d like to drop off, you can bring them to the Food Bank of East Alabama on Monday-Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Friday 7:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.

We are grateful to our friends who hold food drives: they not only bring in food, they also generate awareness of hunger in our community. Items we especially need include peanut butter, canned meats such as chicken and tuna, canned fruits and vegetables, staple items such as pasta and rice, soups, canned meals like spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni & cheese,  and cereal.

Donating food provides a variety of nutritious, quality products for which we are grateful; however, money goes much further. The Food Bank can stretch your dollar through our partnerships with the food bank network and the food industry. In fact, for every dollar donated we are able to obtain and distribute the equivalent of 7 meals.

While we do receive gifts from corporations and foundations, as well as public grants, we rely on donations from generous individuals who open their hearts and checkbooks to help the Food Bank achieve our mission of providing food for better lives.

Partner agencies also support the Food Bank. These agencies do not “buy” food from the Food Bank of East Alabama but pay a small handling fee. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations prohibit the re-selling of donated food. While IRS regulations prohibit the re-selling of donated food, they specifically permit food banks (and only food banks) to charge a small fee to help offset the costs associated with handling donated food. These fees are the partner agency’s shared maintenance fee.

The Food Bank of East Alabama is scrupulous in making sure that our donors make a good investment.

The Food Bank helps charitable feeding programs and churches with food programs in the following ways:

  • Supply your program with meats, fresh produce, and other groceries
  • Increase the nutritional content of the meals you provide
  • Dramatically lower operating costs
  • Expand services
  • Share best practices & show you how to start a food pantry

To learn more about becoming a member agency email our Agency Coordinator at

Volunteering is easy and a great way to have fun, meet new people, and make a far-reaching impact on hunger in our community. Last year more than 18,050 volunteer hours were recorded at the Food Bank! Details about the volunteer program can be found here.

For safety purposes, the minimum age for volunteering is eight years old. Minors under 16 must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.

The Food Bank provided over 4.4 million meals to families & individuals last year.