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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about the Food Bank? Chances are, others are asking the same! See the most frequently asked questions.

Food Banking Overview

How does food banking work?
What part of North Carolina does the Food Bank serve?
Where does the Food Bank get its food?
How much food does the Food Bank provide?
Does the Food Bank provide canned food only?
What about all the food that ends up in landfills?
What else does the Food Bank do besides provide food?
How does the Food Bank help in a natural disaster?

Food Bank Network

How many people does the Food Bank serve?
How does the food get to the people in need?
What is a "Partner Agency"?
How does a charity become a Partner Agency?
If I need food assistance, how can I get it?

Food Bank Finances

Is my donation to the Food Bank tax-deductible?
How much of my donation goes to feeding people?
Should I give money or should I donate food?
Why do I send my check to Raleigh?
What if I want to support my local branch?

Food Drives

Who do I contact to begin a Food Drive?
What kind of food is needed?
Can the Food Bank provide materials to help my drive?
How should I handle cash and credit card contributions?
Can the Food Bank pick up my collection? If not, what are my choices?

Volunteering

How do I volunteer for the Food Bank?
Can I bring a group to volunteer?
What are the age requirements?
Can kids volunteer at the Food Bank?
Do you accept court-ordered community service volunteers?
Can high school or college students volunteer to meet service hour requirements?
Can the Food Bank accommodate volunteers with special needs or a physical handicap or disability?


Food Banking Overview

How does food banking work?

Food is donated to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina through grocery stores, food manufacturers and distributors, and community food drives. This food is collected, sorted, and stored in the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina's distribution centers in Sandhills, Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington. It is then distributed to a network of 800 nonprofit partner agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers and elderly care programs.

How We Fight Hunger

What part of North Carolina does the Food Bank serve?

The Food Bank serves 34 counties in central & eastern North Carolina. The territory is about 19,000 square miles, roughly the size of Switzerland! The counties served are: Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pender, Person, Pitt, Richmond, Sampson, Scotland, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, and Wilson.

Where does the Food Bank get its food?

The Food Bank obtains food from the following sources:

  • 59% Local donors (grocers, growers, packers, and manufacturers)
  • 11% Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest)
  • 5% Other food banks
  • 21% State and federal governmental sources
  • 4% Food drives (company, civic, school, religious and individual food donations)

How much food does the Food Bank provide?

In the fiscal year 2013-2014, the Food Bank distributed more than 53 million pounds of food (44.6 million meals) to a network of 800 partner agencies (food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, group homes). That's a record!

Does the Food Bank provide canned food only?

Over half of the food the Food Bank provides is perishable product: fresh produce, protein rich meats and dairy items. Last year the Food Bank distributed nearly 16.5 million pounds of fresh produce alone—almost 50% more than the year before. Read more about how we collect and distribute fresh food on our blog.

What about all the food that ends up in landfills?

The Food Bank has an expansive Retail Recovery Program. Thanks to partnerships with Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Kroger and Walmart, we were able to rescue and distribute almost 17.3 million pounds of nutritious meats, produce, deli foods, and baked goods last year.

What else does the Food Bank do besides provide food?

In addition to the Fresh Produce and Retail Recovery Programs mentioned above, the Food Bank supports the sourcing, collection and distribution of food such as:

  • Mobile Food Pantry to deliver food to agencies in rural communities that lack substantial infrastructure, such as public transportation. Two refrigerated box trucks serve 38 sites in 10 counties averaging 6,000 pounds at each distribution.
  • Salvage Program to rescue damaged cans and packages with compromised labels or dents from retail reclamation centers. The Food Bank receives 1 million pounds of salvage a year and distributed 88% of these foods and nonfoods.

The Food Bank invests in our future through programs aimed at children and families:

  • Kids Cafe brings community partners together to supply nutritious meals at after school programs and support education, nutrition, and enrichment for kids. In 2013-2014, Kids Cafe Programs supplied over 221,729 meals.
  • Weekend Power Pack supported by Bayer CropScience meets the nutritional needs of children during weekends and long school breaks. Each Friday, kids are given a meal pack filled with non-perishable food. In 2013-2014, 316,024 weekend meals were provided through this program.
  • Kids Summer Meals provides up to two meals a day to children during the summer when school is out and kids have no access to free and reduced price meals. In the summer of 2014, we provided 173,451 meals to over 5,000 children through this program.

How does the Food Bank help in a natural disaster?

The Food Bank is a first-responder during times of natural disaster. That means that if a disaster strikes, we collect and deliver food and supplies to affected areas. During Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the Food Bank was open 24-hours a day for three months after the storm, supplying more than 5.3 million pounds of food and relief supplies to fifteen counties in our service region. Read more about our disaster relief efforts on our blog.

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Food Bank Network

How many people does the Food Bank serve?

The Hunger in America 2014 study completed by Feeding America estimates that the Food Bank is now providing emergency food for an estimated 59,200 different people in any given week across our service area. Additionally:

  • Half of those served by the Food Bank are children and seniors
  • 32% of people served have post-high school education
  • 45% of households include at least one adult who has been employed within the last year
  • 21% of households include grandparents who have responsibility for grandchildren
  • 77% of households report having to choose between paying for medicine or groceries 

Sadly, food insecurity remains a serious problem in central and eastern North Carolina. In our service area, more than 651,000 people struggle to access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for an active and healthy life. Read more about what it means to be food insecure on our blog.

How does the food get to the people in need?

Over 800 not-for-profit organizations (known as a partner agencies) such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, daycare facilities and senior programs, receive food from the Food Bank either by picking up at one of the Food Bank's six branch locations or through deliveries to rural locations that don't have the resources to come to a branch to pick up food. These agencies are on the front lines of hunger, directly providing food and other human services to the community.

The food is either distributed by the agency as bagged/boxed groceries or as meals for those in need. For children's programs, the food may be packed in backpacks for children to take home over the weekend or given as snacks and meals at afterschool and summer programs.

What is a "Partner Agency"?

A Partner Agency is a qualified not-for-profit organization that partners with the Food Bank to distribute food to those in need. These agencies cover the full spectrum of sophistication and stability, but are typically volunteer-run, community-based and under-funded. Agencies fall into several different categories:

  • A food pantry is an agency that provides groceries to individuals and families. Meals are prepared at home by the recipients.
  • An emergency shelter is an agency that provides food and lodging to homeless individuals and families.
  • A soup kitchen is an organization that provides hot meals to individuals and families.

The Food Bank's Agency Services Department regularly monitors all agencies for proper food storage, handling and distribution. Along with partnership, agencies receive advice, training and technical assistance. Agencies are grouped into regional networks to facilitate cooperative problem-solving, resource sharing and support.

How does a charity become a Partner Agency?

In order for an organization to become a Partner Agency with the Food Bank, the organization must meet the following guidelines:

  • Proof of non-profit, tax-exempt organization that is a 501(c)(3) or equivalent
  • Obtain or have a building or room to store Food Bank products
  • Serve the ill, needy children under the age of 18, or infants
  • If a fee is charged for services (day care center, group home, etc.) the organization must show that at least 50% of the clients are in need. (Agencies may not charge a fee for food it receives from the Food Bank.)

For more details about these requirements, please see: Become a Partner Agency.

If I need food assistance, how can I get it?

Individuals and families in need of food assistance should use our Partner Agency Locator to find a site near them. Agencies are located in the following counties: Brunswick, Carteret, Chatham, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pender, Person, Pitt, Richmond, Sampson, Scotland, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, and Wilson.

For long-term assistance, individuals and families should refer to the Food & Nutrition Services (Food Stamp) Program website for eligibility and application information.

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Food Bank Finances

Is my donation to the Food Bank tax-deductible?

As a registered 501c(3) organization established in 1980, all monetary donations to the Food Bank are fully tax-deductible. Our EIN (or tax ID number) is 56-1283426. View our IRS Letter of Determination.

How much of my donation goes to feeding people?

The Food Bank is effective and efficient! Our administrative overhead is 3% - which means that 97% of all contributions go directly to programs and helping those in need. The Food Bank also has a Charity Navigator Four-Star Rating indicating sound fiscal management and organizational efficiency. Read more about the impact of your donation in our 2014 Impact Report.

Should I give money or should I donate food?

The Food Bank deeply values both monetary and food donations!

A food drive is a great way to engage community support and promote awareness of hunger in our communities. Many participants feel a deep sense of reward by contributing food that they have purchased at the store or pulled from their own pantries.

Other donors prefer the ease and efficiency of making a tax-deductible monetary donation. The Food Bank can make a tremendous impact with monetary donations: for every dollar donated, the Food Bank can distribute $10 worth of food or five meals.

Why do I send my check to Raleigh?

In order to operate at the highest efficiency and comply with auditing guidelines, the Food Bank has a central processing location for financial donations located in Raleigh. As our largest distribution center, this location also serves as headquarters for many of our department staff members including Agency & Volunteer Services and Development.

The Food Bank has branch locations in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington to facilitate food distribution in all 34 counties of the central and eastern North Carolina service territory. Supporting staff members for agency services, volunteers and operations are stationed in these areas as required.

Donations to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina support programs and food distribution for those in need in all 34 counties of our service territory and are not restricted to the Raleigh area.

What if I want to support my local branch?

Gifts made by donors support the county or branch in which they reside. If a donor wishes to support a county or branch other than the one in which they reside, simply include a letter indicating the county and/or branch desired.

Branch locations support the following territories:

  • Durham Branch area: Chatham, Durham, Granville, Orange, Person, Vance
  • Greenville Branch area: Carteret, Craven, Edgecombe, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt, Wilson
  • Raleigh Branch area: Duplin, Franklin, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Nash, Sampson, Wake, Warren, Wayne
  • Sandhills Branch area: Lee, Moore, Richmond, Scotland
  • Wilmington Branch area: Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender

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Food Drives

Who do I contact to begin a Food Drive?

Start by registering your food drive on our Food Drive Registration Page. Following your registration, you'll receive an email with helpful and extensive information such as collection & delivery details, most needed items lists and materials such as flyers and logos.

If you have questions not answered by the information you receive, feel free to contact our Food Drive Manager or call 919-865-3053.

What kind of food is needed?

The Food Bank needs nutritious, non-perishable foods such as canned meals with pop-top lids (such as stews and tuna), peanut butter, canned vegetables and cereal or rice. The Food Bank also needs non-food essentials such as hygiene items (toothpaste and soap) and paper products (toilet paper and paper towels.)

Print a comprehensive list of the Most Needed Items.

Can the Food Bank provide materials to help my drive?

Absolutely! The Food Bank has numerous items to help support your drive including collection bins, flyers, and brochures. Large community food drives can be posted to our website and featured on our social networks. In addition, we can arrange to have a speaker at your event.

Register your drive first and check out the materials offered in the informational email following your submission. Then, contact our Food Drive Manager for additional questions and requests.

How should I handle cash and credit card contributions?

Cash and checks can be collected by food drive organizers and delivered to the Food Bank along with the food collection. A receipt will be given at the time of delivery for the the monetary donations as well as the food poundage.

If you'd like to offer your participants the ability to make credit card donations, consider hosting a virtual food drive or setting up a personal fundraising campaign. Virtual food drives can be customized with company logos and food drive details, while personal fundraising campaigns offer a more interactive approach and are perfect for birthdays, memorials, or family events.

Can the Food Bank pick up my collection? If not, what are my choices?

If at all possible, we request that you deliver your collected food drive items to any of our six branch locations.  Delivering food to those who need it remains our top priority and we would be grateful for your help in allowing us to conserve our resources for those purposes.  However, if you are not able to arrange a drop off, contact our Food Drive Manager for more information. (Please allow at least 48 hours notice to schedule a pickup.)

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Volunteering

How do I volunteer for the Food Bank?

The Food Bank has many opportunities for volunteers to get involved and make a tangible contribution to our communities. Activities include:

  • Distribution Center Volunteers are needed to help with repackaging and sorting food donations as well as general maintenance of the warehouse.
  • Administrative Volunteers are called on to assist with filing, mailing, reception desk support, and other clerical duties.
  • Volunteer Drivers assist staff with pickups of local donations.
  • Speakers Bureau Volunteers are a part of a special training program to become advocates for the Food Bank and speak on behalf of the organization.
  • Special Events Volunteers are needed for food and fundraising events and major community initiatives.

Please refer to our to our Volunteer Pages for more details and to sign up.

Can I bring a group to volunteer?

The Food Bank welcomes groups at our distribution centers! We have a variety of space and project availability at our branch locations, therefore, we ask that groups book in advance and make a two hour time commitment. Volunteer slots fill up quickly, so we recommend that groups have more than one date in mind when booking.

Please refer to our Volunteer Pages to make arrangements for your group to visit.

What are the age requirements?

Folks 18 years of age and older are welcome to volunteer during normal volunteer hours. Youth between the ages of 12 to 17 are welcome to volunteer when accompanied by an adult.

Hours vary by branch location. Please refer to our Volunteer Pages for more details.

Can kids volunteer at the Food Bank?

The Food Bank welcomes and encourages kids to give back to their community and learn more about the issues of hunger by volunteering on Kids Day! The monthly event is offered for children between the ages of 5 and 12 when accompanied by an adult.

Kids Day is offered at the following locations during the following times:

  • Durham: Second & Fourth Saturday of the month from 10-2 pm
  • Greenville: Second Saturday of the month from 10-12pm
  • Raleigh: Second and Fourth Saturday of the month from 2-4 pm

Kids can also volunteer for the Food Bank by holding a food drive or a fundraiser, such as a lemonade stand. Consider holding a "Virtual Lemonade Stand" for friends and family using our Personal Fundraising Tool! Read more on our Kids Page.

Do you accept court-ordered community service volunteers?

The Food Bank welcomes select volunteers needing to complete court-related community service at all 5 of our branch locations. All non-violent court-related community service volunteers must attend a mandatory orientation before hours can be fulfilled. Non-violent offenders include traffic violations or other non-violent misdemeanors.

Orientation varies by branch. Please refer to our Volunteer Pages for more details.

Can high school or college students volunteer to meet service hour requirements?

Absolutely! Students who are in need of community service hours are welcome to volunteer during normal volunteer hours and do not need to attend an orientation. Students between the ages of 12 to 17 will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Upon arrival at our warehouse, please alert a staff member that the student will need documentation of hours contributed.

Can the Food Bank accommodate volunteers with special needs or a physical handicap or disability?

The Food Bank welcomes volunteers of all skill sets and will make every effort possible to accommodate all volunteers. Please contact a branch staff person to inquire about your needs.

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