Food stability means always having enough food to be full. Many low-income families suffer from what is known as food instability. This refers to situations where parents sometimes skip meals to ensure their children have enough to eat. Or when there simply isn't enough money to buy the amount of food needed to keep everyone in the family full. Families with growing children know how hard it can be to feed a child who is going through a growth spurt.
While there are federal programs to help families in need, not every family qualifies. Being admitted to government assistance programs can take weeks to set up. For families that are in immediate need of food and other household supplies, a local food bank can help. Food pantries and food banks exist to help low-income families get by. They provide free and reduced-priced food items for families who may not qualify for other government assistance programs. They are often run by local religious organizations although they will usually help anyone no matter what their faith is.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly referred to as SNAP, is one of the best resources for low-income families struggling with food. It is the largest domestic anti-hunger program. SNAP also benefits local communities because research has found the majority of recipients spend their benefits in their communities. Unfortunately, the application process for government assistance can take a couple of weeks to complete. A local food bank can help tide you over until your government assistance is sorted out.
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Previously called "Second Harvest," Feeding America is the largest network of food banks in the United States. The non-profit organization provides emergency food assistance to more than 46 million Americans each year. Visit their site to find a Feeding America food bank in your area.
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Ample Harvest helps connect local farmers with food pantries and food banks, so that excess harvested fruits and vegetables can be shared—rather than going to waste if they are not sold. Their website can help you find partnered food banks in your area.
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FoodPantries.org is a website that lists thousands of food pantries throughout the United States. The site lists government and nonprofit subsidized grocery resources available to families in need. It is user generated which means anyone can submit food pantries to be added to the list. This non-profit is one of the best online resources for finding local food banks.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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PantryNet.org offers a listing of local food pantries around the nation. It's similar to Foodpantries.org but only lists food pantries that have requested to be listed. You can search its database by zip code or state. Visit their site to look for a food pantry in your area. The site is clutter free and easy to navigate.
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2-1-1 is a service provided by the United Way that connects individuals and families with service organizations and assistance programs right in your immediate area. Dial 2-1-1 on your telephone to find out whether the service is active in your area at this time. Operators will then direct you to a local food pantry or food bank in your area.