No longer simply the domain of canned corn and peanut butter, food banks are preparing ready-to-eat meals, opening their own farms and partnering with institutions as varied as local supermarkets and state prisons to help gather and process food, according to a December 9 article in The New York Times. They are also handling much more fresh produce, which requires overhauling the way they store and distribute food.
Food banks also provide referrals to community resources that their patrons may need.
“It’s not just handing out a box here or there anymore,” said Peggy Grimes, executive director of the Montana Food Bank Network, which covers the state. “A lot of effort goes into thinking outside the box. It’s becoming the focus of food banking.”
In Madison, Wisc., thinking of new ways to dispense food was a necessity. The pantry used to pack and distribute food, only to find the bags of groceries discarded at a bus stop around the corner. “It’s not that they were ungrateful,” said Ralph Middlecamp, the pantry’s director. “They just knew they wouldn’t eat it.”