/What is a Food Bank

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a food bank? 

It’s one of the most common questions we’re asked.  You may have heard the term “food bank” used to describe a lot of different charities from soup kitchens to emergency food pantries.  The reality is that food banks are much, much bigger than many people realize.  We’re like FedEx or UPS for collecting and distributing millions of pounds of donated food all over the region!  And we need your help to do it!

Read more below and learn how food banks like the Food Bank of North Alabama are crucial players in not just hunger relief, but also saving food from being thrown away, changing how people think and make laws about growing and distributing food, and helping local business people get started making local food available to everyone.

Interested in becoming a partner with the Food Bank of North Alabama?  Click on the following links to learn how to volunteer with us, start a food pantry, or donate to end hunger in your community.

Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.  Our warehouse hours (for agencies) are Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 3 PM.  If you are selecting items for an agency, please arrange to arrive at our warehouse no later than 2:30 PM.

Call the community relations manager at 256-382-0296 to learn more about hosting a food drive and to arrange for a pick up or to drop off your food items at the Food Bank. We greatly appreciate your contributions. Learn more here.

Call  us at 256-382-0296 or email us at (communityrelations@fbofna.org).  We will assist you through our simple application process that includes (1) a written application, (2) a site visit to your location to ensure proper food safety standards are met, and (3) an orientation at our facility. We’re looking forward to partnering with you to end hunger in North Alabama!

Food Bank of North Alabama provides food to qualified feeding programs operating in the following North Alabama counties: Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan.

The Food Bank supplies food to more than 240 qualified feeding programs located throughout its eleven-country service area.

The Food Bank distributes about 8.5 million pounds of food to its affiliated feeding programs each year.

The Food Bank receives food from a number of sources including:
• The national food industry through its affiliation with Feeding America
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture through the State of Alabama
• Local food system participants (i.e. local growers, producers, distributors, etc.)
• Local contributions from individuals (i.e. local food drives, individual donations, etc.)
• Direct food purchases


The 2014 Hunger Study estimates that over 80,000 unduplicated individuals receive emergency food each year in the 11 counties we serve. Many are served through food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens affiliated with the Food Bank of North Alabama.  Thousands more are fed through non-emergency feeding programs served by the Food Bank such as after-school tutoring classes, group homes for the mentally ill and intellectually disadvantaged, and backpack programs for children.

No. The food and household items provided through the food bank are given free of charge to the needy, ill and children.  The non-profit feeding programs (like food pantries, shelters, etc.) may contribute up to a 14 cents per pound to help the Food Bank cover a portion of the costs to source and store needed food items. (Costs such as freight, for example). These costs are never passed along to the end consumer.


A Food Bank provides its designated service area (North Alabama in our case) with two primary benefits.  The first benefit centers on providing a conduit through which large national food donations can be channled to local charitbale feeding programs.  The second benefit is serving as a hub for the distribution of large quantities of food to a network of charitable feeding programs operating throughout the food bank’s service area and serving the needy, the ill and children.  There is no other entity in North Alabama providing these important social services.


For a more formal definition, 7 USCS § 7501(5), defines a food bank as “a public or charitable institution that maintains an established operation involving the provision of food or edible commodities, or the products of food or edible commodities, to food pantries, soup kitchens, hunger relief centers, or other food or feeding centers that, as an integral part of their normal activities, provide meals or food to feed needy persons on a regular basis.”

The Food Bank supplies food and household items to charitable feeding programs like food pantries, children’s backpack programs, and shelters that serve the ill, children and needy. We also monitor these feeding programs to ensure food safety standards are maintained and that the food reaches the intended recipients.