Sources of Food

The Food Bank acquires the food we distribute by partnering with the Federal government, national, regional, and local retailers, distributors, growers, and brokers to access large quantities of food items families can use to make meals. This includes:

Federal Nutrition Programs

We secure donations of USDA commodity food, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which provides USDA food to the state for distribution and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides a monthly box of USDA commodities to seniors. Until it was discontinued in May 2021, the pandemic-era Farmers to Families Box program, which provided boxes of fresh produce, meat and dairy products to families in need, made up a large portion of this food source.

Food Purchasing

Approximately one third of the food we distribute is purchased at a low cost from wholesalers and distributors,  allowing us to meet the diverse food needs of Rhode Islanders by purchasing more culturally relevant foods. Broadening the selection at our pantries is extremely important as we do not want people to avoid seeking food assistance because we don’t stock the foods they are familiar with or want to serve their families.

Donated Food

The Food Bank receives donated perishable and non-perishable food from supermarkets, the food industry and the public. Our Retail Rescue Program helps reduce food waste by rescuing perishable food that is slated for disposal. Retailers agree to set-aside food items that aren’t selling or are past the “sell-by” date. This includes dairy, produce, baked goods and meat frozen for us by the retailers on or close to the “sell-by” date to ensure food safety. Member agencies are paired with one or two local supermarkets nearby and regularly pick up rescued food.

Fresh Food

We seek innovative partnerships with local farms and farm businesses, gleaners and fisheries to help us increase our acquisition of locally grown/farmed fresh food. We also acquire donated fresh produce from national wholesalers, paying a small fee to package it into useable quantities and ship it to Rhode Island.