Banking Category Banking: the easy, simple banking guide

How to qualify for food banks

When you are going through a financial crisis, you are not fighting alone. If you are having difficulty providing food for your family to eat, there are food banks in your local neighbourhood that can help you put food on the table.

For some banks, the only qualification for assistance is that you are hungry and in need of food. However, because there are thousands of food bank programmes around the globe, the eligibility requirements for each bank will vary.

Gather all of the documents that are generally required for assistance. This includes a state issued photo ID, proof of income and proof of residence. Proof of residence can include any documents that include your name and address, such as a lease or utility bill.

Contact your local food bank. Advise the food bank representative that you are in need of groceries for your household. To find a food bank near you, use free sources, such as the United Way 211, Find A Food Bank and Feeding America (see Resources).

Present your ID, proof of income and proof of address to the food bank representative. For some food banks, all you need is proof of address.

Participate in an interview with the food bank representative. Depending upon the food bank, a sit-down interview may not be required. The interview is just a means for the food bank to assess your needs.

The interview questions for each food bank will vary. However, there are some potential questions you should be prepared to answer. For example, the food bank representative may ask if you are working. If you are not working, she may inquire about how you became unemployed. Other sample questions include whether you receive government assistance (such as food stamps), whether you have received previous assistance from the food bank, how many individuals are in your household and the ages of those individuals.

Wait to hear whether you are qualified to receive assistance from the food bank. Depending upon the food bank, you may be notified of your approval on the same day as your interview. Other food banks may take longer. Some food banks have a limit on the amount of times or the frequency you can receive assistance.

Visit the food bank on your scheduled pickup date to pick up your groceries. Your scheduled pickup date is the date and time that is assigned for you to come and pick up your food. Depending upon the food bank, your pickup date may be on the same date as your interview or approval notification.

When picking up your food, the groceries may or may not be "pre-packed" for you. Some banks will allow you to pick out what you need, in specified quantities. For example, you may be able to pick out 10 boxed items, 10 can items and three meats. This protocol will vary by food bank.