The Food Bank of North Alabama supplies over 7 million pounds of food as well as household items to charitable feeding programs like food pantries, children’s backpack programs, and shelters that serve children, the ill, and the needy at no charge while monitoring these feeding programs to ensure food safety standards are maintained and that the food reaches the intended recipients. The organization began with a small group of volunteers in 1984 and has grown to feed over 80,000 people in North Alabama through a network of over 200 partner feeding programs. Their facility, located at 2000-B Vernon Avenue, consists of 15,000 sq. ft. of dry warehouse storage and 3,000 sq. ft. of refrigerated and frozen storage. Their service area includes the counties of Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan.
The Food Bank’s mission is accomplished through two primary avenues:
- Providing a conduit through which large national food donations can be channeled to local charitable feeding programs
- Serving as a hub for the distribution of large quantities of food to a network of charitable feeding programs operating throughout the food bank’s service area.
The Food Bank receives its food through a number of contributors:
• The national food industry through its affiliation
with Feeding America
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture through the State of Alabama
• Local food system participants (i.e. local growers, producers, distributors, etc.)
• Local contributions from individuals (i.e. local food drives, individual donations, etc.)
• Direct food purchases
Their Programs (As cited on their website)
Feeding Neighbors in Need: They supply nearly 7 million pounds of food to over 200 charitable feeding programs that serve over 80,000 people in North Alabama.
The Good Food Project: During the Food Bank’s 2014 Hunger study, they found that 70% of client households have a member with hypertension. The Food Bank has partnered with Kroger to offer food specifically designed for clients trying to prevent or alleviate diet-related diseases.
Backpack Programs: They partner with companies, churches, and civic groups to provide two-day meal kits to students who might otherwise go without food over the weekend. These meal kits mean that children arrive at school on Monday mornings ready to learn without the distraction of hunger.
Match the Meals Program: This program matches funds raised for food pantries and backpack programs that serve children and their families. Contributions to the program mean healthy bodies, academic success, and a bright future for thousands of children.
Disaster Response: They play a vital role in responding to emergencies that impact our region, including tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. They supply emergency food and water directly to residents who are directly impacted by disasters.
Store Donation Program: They solicit food donations from over 60 local grocery stores. Five days a week the Food Bank’s fleet of refrigerated trucks picks up donated meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and canned goods. The program saves over 3 million pounds of food a year from going to waste in local landfills and instead feeds our region’s most vulnerable citizens at risk of hunger.
The Fresh Food Initiative: They help families access fresh foods from local farmers by promoting the use of SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) at farmers markets. For every SNAP dollar spent at a participating farmers market, they double the value up to $20. It’s a win for families trying to eat healthy on a limited budget, a win for local farmers and a win for the local economy.
The Farm Food Collaborative: They help family farmers sell local food to local schools, hospitals, workplace cafeterias and grocery stores. The program supports thriving family farms, strengthens our local economy, and makes fresh, healthy foods available to the broadest spectrum of residents. Partners include local farmers, local buyers, and support agencies.
The Hiatt Loan Fund: This program provides micro-loans to family farmers and entrepreneurs who create jobs and greater access to healthy food choices in underserved communities. These loans have helped small food-business owners and local job creators who might not qualify for conventional loans. The fund is operated by our non-profit partner Neighborhood Concepts.
The North Alabama Food Policy Council: Fosters education, collaboration and policy advancements to support a more locally-based, sustainable and self-reliant food system accessible to all. The Council is a grassroots, all-volunteer effort open to all residents interested supporting local food and farmers.
How To Give or Support
The Food Bank accepts donations online through their Web site via Credit/Debit card or PayPal and offers one-time as well as recurring donations. Every dollar donated can provide nearly 5 meals. Monetary gifts can also be mailed to Food Bank of North Alabama, P.O. Box 18607, Huntsville, AL 35804 or dropped off at their facility.
You can also donate non-perishable food items directly to their warehouse at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Center, 2000-B Vernon Ave., Huntsville, AL 35805. Their most needed foods include:
- Canned meat or fish
- Canned vegetables
- Peanut butter
- Soups, chili or stew
- Paper products (towels & tissue)
- Dinner kits (Hamburger Helper, rice, noodles, etc.)
- Breakfast cereal
- Canned fruits
You can also volunteer by hosting a food drive, inspecting and sorting food, and many more ways. For more information about how you can help, call 256-382-0296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit them online at their website or on their Facebook page.