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Frequently Asked Questions

For more information on FoodLink for Tulare County or to ask a question not listed below please contact us at info@foodlinktc.org

What is a food bank?

Food Banks acquire large donations of edible but unmarketable food from the food industry and distribute it to organizations that feed hungry and low-income people.

What is the difference between a food bank, food pantry, and soup kitchen?

A food bank solicits, stores and distributes large donations of food, donations that a single food pantry could not accept because of a lack of storage capacity at their facility. Food banks feed the needs of hungry people by distributing the donations they receive to a large number of member agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, meal programs, drug treatment centers, and senior care centers.

A food pantry provides three to five-day food packages to those who do not have enough food. These packages are designed to provide nutritionally balanced meals.

Soup kitchens serve walk-ins in need of a hot meal, the only meal of the day for many of them. Most soup kitchens serve a full, balanced meal, and some prepare and deliver meals to the homebound, as well.

Does the food bank sell food?

The FoodLink does not, and in fact cannot, sell the donated food it receives. Moreover, the local food pantries and soup kitchens cannot charge the hungry people they serve for this food. The Food Bank may ask the agencies that receive food to cooperate in the support of the Food Bank by contributing a transportation fee and a shared maintenance fee of $0.16 per pound for non USDA food they receive. Some food, such as produce, is provided to all agencies free of charge.

How does the food get to these agencies?

FoodLink delivers more than 75% its food to its member agencies. We have a small fleet of trucks that deliver throughout the county. Local agencies also make scheduled visits to our warehouse to pick up allotments of food.

Tell me more about your operations…

The FoodLink is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. A volunteer Board of Directors governs the organization. FoodLink employs a dedicated staff and involves thousands of volunteers in its work.

We are not a government agency, and in fact, do not receive government money for our day-to-day operations, although we do administer certain government food programs.

Where is the Food Bank?

Beginning June 2016 we will be located at 611 2nd Street in Exeter, CA

How do I find the food pantry nearest to me?

Call us at (559) 651-3663, or send an email info@foodlinktc.org. Give us your address, and we’ll find the food pantry nearest to you.

How much of my donation goes toward operations?

95% of every donation goes toward operating costs and 5% goes toward administrative costs.

How far do my donations go?

Our bulk purchasing power and ultra-efficient distribution network allows us to distribute $5worth of food (retail value) for every $1 donation.

Despite recent increases in food allotments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and steady community support via food drives, the Food Bank should purchase 50% of the food it distributes to keep up with current demand. We rely on financial donations more than ever.

There are three ways for individuals to make a direct, tax-deductible financial donation to the Food Bank:

  • By making an Online donation
  • By mailing a check to: FoodLink for Tulare County P.O. Box 1544, Visalia, CA 93279
  • By starting a Virtual FoodDrive, where donors can grab a virtual shopping cart and see how our bulk purchasing power compares to retail prices – and/or sign up as a group to promote the cause.

For corporate donations or sponsorships, Read more

How can I help?

Volunteer opportunities are available in the warehouse and office, as well as for special events and projects. For more information, call the Food Bank at (559) 651-3663 or visit the Volunteer section of this website.

How does hunger affect people?

Although we do not see starvation in the United States, hunger and malnutrition are prominent and have significant consequences:

  • Malnourished pregnant women are more likely to have stillborn or low birth-weight babies
  • Inadequately nourished infants and children are apt to have learning problems and more illnesses
  • Adults who are hungry are less energetic and productive, making it difficult to find and keep a job or care for children
  • Malnourished elderly persons are less able to prevent illness and enjoy good health

Can those who are hungry pick up food at FoodLink for Tulare County?

Not directly. The food collected and warehoused at FoodLink is distributed to qualified 501(c)(3) charities that feed the hungry throughout Tulare County – organizations such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters. These charities, called member agencies or pantries, receive the food from FoodLink for Tulare and give it to those in need.

What type of food is donated to the Food Bank?

The majority of food items that we currently provide are the USDA commodity foods donated by the federal government and made available to agencies. These partner agencies provide USDA according to the guidelines, a no barrier, self-certifying program. Any violations to the guidelines should be reported to FoodLink.

Other food items come from the food industry. There are many reasons why products are donated. They may be mislabeled, overproduced, test -market items and products with short code dates.

We sometimes have to purchase food with donated dollars as well.

Where does the food go?

The FoodLink supplies food to such nonprofit organizations as food pantries, senior centers, shelters, after-school programs, soup kitchens, low-income day care centers, and others. These programs turn our food into nutritious, balanced meals for thousands of men, women, and children who otherwise would not get enough to eat. The Food Bank serves more than 30 member agencies throughout Tulare County.

Tell me more about these member agencies…

To be members of the Food Bank, agencies must be not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations serving the ill, low-income, or infants. They must serve free meals or provide free food packages to the low-income residents, and have proper facilities for storage, cooking, and food handling. The Food Bank monitors these agencies on a regular basis to assure they handle food in a safe, sanitary manner. Emergency feeding programs (food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters) which are members of the Food Bank provide monthly statistics on the number of people they serve.

What other programs do you have?

The Food Bank operates several programs which provide food for member agencies. Please visit our Program section on the website to learn about these.

Can we come see how food banking works?

Yes! We encourage you to come! Seeing how the food is handled will give you a much better idea of how your donations are being used. Just give us a call to set up a tour, and see for yourself how food banking is helping to feed the hungry in your community! Please contact us to set up a tour at (559) 651-3663

Where do you get your funding?

The FoodLink is privately funded through a diversity of revenue sources, including individuals, corporations, foundations, special events and federal, state and county government agencies, and grants. For more details, see our latest Annual Report.

Can a $10 donation make a difference?

Of course! For every donated dollar we distribute $5 worth of food. So, a $10 donation will allow us to distribute $50 worth of food!

Does the Food Bank accept prepared or perishable food?

Because the Food Bank must comply to U.S. Department of Agriculture distribution regulations, we do not accept prepared food (from restaurants or individuals). Some of the member agencies through which we distribute food have the facilities to accept prepared food and privately harvested fresh produce. We will attempt to connect any donors to an appropriate hunger-relief agency in their community. For assistance, please call (559) 651-3663

Why should I support FoodLink for Tulare County?

The FoodLink serves an important mission of feeding hungry people and providing nutrition education while preventing food waste. It does so in a very efficient and cost-effective manner. Your help is needed because requests for emergency food have been steadily increasing, especially among the working poor. In fact, the working poor comprise the fastest growing segment of people in need of food assistance. Your donation to the Food Bank will go a long way toward alleviating hunger in our community.