Frequently Asked Questions

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Below you will find frequently asked questions. If you are not able to find the answer to your question please contact the Food Bank at 1-858-527-1419.

How do I get food assistance?

Please call 2-1-1, San Diego County’s social services hotline, to find a food provider in your neighborhood. The Food Bank updates 2-1-1 with all of our food distributions every week. 2-1-1 can tell you where to get emergency food assistance in your area as well as your nearest monthly Food Bank food distribution and how to sign up for Food Bank programs. The 2-1-1 call center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in more than 150 languages.

Does the Food Bank provide food to residents in areas other than the city of San Diego?

The Food Bank provides food to any resident of San Diego County. We have 183 distribution sites in east county, north county, south bay, coastal communities, and in central San Diego.

How can my organization or church become a member of the food bank?

You can find information about becoming nonprofit partner of the Food Bank on our Food To Nonprofits Program page. Click here for more information  Food To Nonprofits Program

Can I get food from more than one program?

Yes, if you qualify, you may participate on one or more programs. You may also receive a referral to a local pantry or a hot meal program.

Where can I drop off my food donation?

The Food Bank can accept nonperishable food donations during warehouse receiving hours, Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. If our warehouse location is not convenient, or it is during the holidays, please call 1-858-527-1419 to find a collection site near you.

Is it more helpful to donate food or money?

The Food Bank accepts both food and monetary donations. While food donations provide a significant proportion of the Food Bank’s food supply, monetary donations enable the Food Bank to purchase food on the wholesale food markets to supplement food drive donations. For every $1 donation, the Food Bank can provide 5 meals to the community.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity is defined as a condition in which a family or an individual is unable to obtain enough safe and nutritious food from socially acceptable sources in order to lead an active and healthy life.

What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

A food bank is not a food pantry. A food pantry is much smaller than a food bank and often serves one community, and in some instances a food pantry will serve a neighborhood. A food bank, on the other hand, often serves an entire county or larger area. A food bank supplies food to hundreds of food pantries throughout a county. Food banks secure large quantities of food products from commercial suppliers, local donations, the USDA, and other sources. After the product is examined and sorted, it is then offered to the food bank’s nonprofit partners, often food pantries, that provide food to individuals and families in need in the communities they serve.

Where does the Food Bank get money?

While we do receive gifts from corporations and foundations, as well as public grants, the majority of our funding comes from generous individuals who open their hearts and checkbooks to help the Food Bank fight hunger in San Diego County. Only 6% of all of our resources are used for overhead and administrative costs. 94 cents of every dollar donated goes directly towards feeding programs.

How do I start a food drive?

We are grateful to our friends in the community who hold food drives. They generate food and awareness about the problem of hunger in our community. Click here for more information about organizing a food drive for the Food Bank

What food items do you need the most?

Our most needed items include: canned meats (tuna, ham, chicken), canned soup, canned or dried fruits, canned vegetables, dried beans, rice & cereal, peanut butter, powdered milk, infant formula, packaged nuts and seeds, and dried pasta. We are unable to accept: glass jars, including baby food, home-canned, or baked products.