Enter your location in the search field. If no results appear, enter a popular nearby location e.g. the nearest town or city.
Select a food bank near you. Check the address and opening times.
Visit your local food bank. Collect or donate food items.
Please note that some food banks may require you to follow specific steps before collecting or donating items, such as getting a referral for collection or ensuring you’re not donating unwanted items. If you’re unsure of your local donation center’s requirements, you should contact the center before visiting (our tool provides all necessary contact information).
Food banks rely on donations from charitable individuals and operational help from volunteers. Once a bank receives a food donation, it’s stored on shelves or in refrigerators and then packaged up into parcels or boxes ready for distribution.
Many food banks also accept cash donations, which allows them more flexibility to buy products that aren’t frequently donated, ensuring they can provide donatees with nutritionally-balanced packages.
In most cases, food banks simply require donatees to visit the center and request a collection. But certain banks also offer a home delivery service for less-abled individuals.
However, some branches may ask users for a referral to use the food bank (common in the UK) — this ensures those collecting packages are in legitimate need of food and other supplies. That said, not all banks require a referral, and you can also contact the center prior to visiting to confirm whether you need one.
If you want to collect donations from a food bank, you can find a branch that’s close to you by entering your location into the Food Bank Finder tool above.
If you want to donate to a food bank, make sure you know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable donations before arriving at the center.
Packages usually include a range of food items, including fresh and canned meats, vegetables, dried goods like pasta, and condiments. Most food banks try to assemble nutrient-rich food packages to ensure donatees are eating a balanced diet.
You could also receive toiletries and household goods, including toothpaste, soap, laundry powder, surface disinfectant, and more. Some even offer pet supplies, including dry kibble and cat litter.
Each package you collect should last at least a few days, but some food banks may create boxes lasting a week or longer. Parcel sizes may also differ depending on the number of people in your household.
Most food banks also take special dietary requirements into consideration. When visiting your local food bank, ask a volunteer for items that cater to your specific dietary needs.
In some cases, yes. Although more common in the UK than in the US, food banks use a referral system to ensure everyone coming to the food bank is in genuine need of supplies.
UK residents can get a food bank referral by contacting their local Citizens Advice Bureau, which will also guide them through the process of getting a referral and how to present the referral at a food bank.
US residents don’t usually need a referral before visiting a food bank, it’s best to check if your local food bank has any other requirements before visiting.
Once you find a food bank near you, get in contact with a representative and ask if you need to provide a referral or any form of documentation before collecting donations.
While food banks appreciate any kind of donation, many centers prefer shelf-stable items such as canned foods, like soups or tinned fish, and dried ingredients, like rice or pasta. Keep in mind that some donatees don’t have proper kitchen facilities, so items that don’t require cooking equipment are welcomed.
Before donating fresh items, like meats, dairy, fruits, and veggies, always check the list of items your local food bank accepts.
Here’s a list of items you could consider donating:
Canned tuna, mackerel, or other fish.
Canned soup and broths.
Fresh meats, including chicken and beef.
Fruits and vegetables.
Rolled oats and cereals.
Dried fruits, like apricots or sultanas.
Rice, both dried and microwavable.
Canned beans, like kidney beans or chickpeas.
UHT long-life milk.
Salt, pepper, and other seasonings or condiments.
It’s common for food banks to also accept non-food items, like toiletries and household cleaning products, like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, surface disinfectant spray, etc.
Here’s a list of items you should AVOID donating:
Expired or soon-to-expire items.
Items that are already open.
Dented or rusted cans.
Items in glass jars.
Home-cooked meals or leftovers.
Home-baked cakes and cookies.
High-sugar items, like candy or soda drinks.
Fresh dairy products.
Baby milk formula.
Most food banks don’t accept baby formula due to the safety concerns raised by the children’s charity, UNICEF, which states some donated baby formula may not be appropriate. However, you can help parents by donating other baby-care items, such as diapers, clothing, bedding, etc.
Keep in mind that some donation centers may not accept frozen foods, like pizza or vegetables, so check whether your local branch accepts frozen items before donating them.
If you’re still unsure about what to donate, contact your local food bank and ask them to provide a list of items they’d prefer to receive. Our food bank finder provides contact information for the donation centers near you.
To find a food bank near you, enter your location into our food bank finder tool and choose from the list of options.
Our food bank finder lists thousands of food banks across the US and UK and provides opening times and contact information.
Yes, in most cases, anyone can visit a food bank and collect donations. That said, you may need a referral before visiting some donation centers — referral systems are designed to ensure only those who are genuinely in need of supplies can collect food packages.
Before you visit a food bank near you, it’s best to contact them to confirm if they have any specific requirements for donatees.
Usually, food banks allow up to 4 visits per month (or once per week), but the rules may vary depending on supplies, availability of volunteers, and the time of year (restrictions may apply during the lead-up to widely-celebrated holidays.
First, find a food bank near you, then use the provided contact information to get in touch with your local donation center to confirm package collection limits.
Yes, most food banks accept cash donations. In fact, some centers prefer cash donations as it gives them the freedom to buy a diverse range of items as opposed to constantly receiving unneeded items.
Food banks can use cash donations to buy items in bulk, which is usually more cost-effective.
That said, before donating money, check the food bank’s preferred payment method — they may prefer to accept payment via bank transfer as opposed to cash.
Many food banks offer a delivery service, but this service is usually reserved for elderly or disabled individuals who can’t visit the donation center.
If you are unable to visit your local center, you should contact them and ask if they could arrange for a food parcel to be delivered to you.
Yes. Some food banks provide pet food and other supplies, including dog waste bags, cat litter, and treats. When you visit your local food bank, you need to ask a volunteer if they have any pet food in stock. You could also call various local centers before visiting to ensure they have pet supplies.