By Ed Nicholson
At Tyson, we get frequent requests for food donations from organizations claiming to be "food banks." Upon further query it often turns out that many of the groups–as worthy as their efforts are–are not food banks. There exists some confusion over the use of the term that needs to be cleared up.
A food bank is a non-profit organization that warehouses and distributes food to a network of local agencies, who in turn distribute to individuals in need.
Food banks receive food and other resources from a number of different sources, including food producers, grocery stores, individual donors and organizational food drives. Many food banks are also official distributors for USDA and FEMA government emergency food programs.
Food banks typically have a network of non-profit organizations to which they distribute, which can include food pantries, feeding sites, and shelters. Quite often, this is where the confusion arises. Food pantries are not "food banks" (even though some food banks operate food pantries and mobile food distribution systems).
The agencies are where the rubber meets the road. They distribute the food to families and individuals in need.
Tyson Foods is a proud supporter of the Feeding America Network, which includes more than 200 member food banks, serves every county in the U.S., and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of food relief each year. 95% of the food Tyson donates goes to Feeding America food banks. There are some very compelling, specific reasons our company chooses to partner with Feeding America. I’ll get into those in a later post.
The U.S., due in large part to the effectiveness of the Feeding America and its network of food banks has the most efficient emergency food distribution system in the world.