Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question for us? Below are answers to some of the questions we encounter most frequently.
What is a food bank?
A food bank is an organization that collects, stores, and distributes donated food on a large scale. Most food banks do not distribute food directly to individuals, but rather to member organizations such as shelters, food pantries, faith-based organizations and schools. You can think of a food bank as a central hub that connects and distributes food to smaller hunger-relief agencies across the state.
What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?
Food banks are bigger—usually there is just one or two operating in a single state—and they do not distribute food directly to individuals but to a network of hunger-relief agencies. Meanwhile, food pantries are smaller hunger-relief agencies that work within a specific community and distribute food directly to hungry individuals. Food pantries often rely on their regional food bank to provide them with food, while food banks rely on food pantries and their other network partners to distribute that food directly to hungry individuals.
What is food insecurity?
Put simply, food insecurity is another word for hunger. The term food insecurity was born out of the understanding that hunger is not a black and white state, but rather a spectrum. The Maryland Food Bank defines food insecurity as: the inability to consistently access nutritious food.
What is the Maryland Food Bank?
The Maryland Food Bank is a nonprofit hunger-relief organization, leading the movement to end hunger throughout Maryland. For more than 35 years, the Maryland Food Bank has partnered with communities across the state to distribute food to individuals and families in need. Through carefully crafted programs, the food bank aims to meet the immediate needs of Marylanders while simultaneously working to find long term ways to reduce hunger statewide. Currently distributing about 100,800 meals per day—a total of nearly 37 million meals annually—the Maryland Food Bank will continue to expand its efforts until hunger ends.
Where does the Maryland Food Bank get food?
The Maryland Food Bank has developed a wide variety of partnerships across the food industry over its 35 years in the field. Among some of the most important sources of food are: produce from farms, donations from large food retailers and manufacturers, USDA commodities, and purchased food.
How does the Maryland Food Bank distribute food?
The majority of the food that leaves our warehouse goes directly to one of our 1,250 network partners. From there, each network partner distributes food to the food-insecure individuals in their respective community. The Maryland Food Bank also has a few direct service initiatives, including our Pantry on the Go and MFB Kids™ programs, which are designed to bridge service gaps and ensure that groups especially at risk of hunger get the assistance they need.
Who does the food go to?
One in 8 Marylanders is food insecure, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap Report. Among the most common groups impacted by food insecurity are children, seniors, the working poor, and the homeless. For more information visit our Hunger in Maryland page, where we outline the state of hunger in Maryland.
What geographic area does the Maryland Food Bank serve?
The Maryland Food Bank has facilities in Baltimore, Hagerstown, and Salisbury and distributes food throughout 21 counties and Baltimore City, including Somerset, Wicomico, and Washington counties—some of the most food-insecure regions in Maryland. Prince George’s County and Montgomery County are excluded, as they are served by our sister food bank, the Capital Area Food Bank.
How much food does the Maryland Food Bank distribute?
In FY 2014 the Maryland Food Bank distributed 36.8 million meals to hungry Marylanders—about 100,800 meals every day.
Is the Maryland Food Bank a state-run organization?
No. Despite its large size and statewide presence, the Maryland Food Bank is an independent nonprofit organization—not a state-run entity. The Maryland Food Bank does, however, receive some state funding—about 5% of its budget—and, at times, the government will turn to the Maryland Food Bank for help with vital food distribution.
For Donors & Volunteers
How can I support the Maryland Food Bank?
The Maryland Food Bank is leading a movement to end hunger in Maryland, and we need you to join us! Educate yourself about hunger in Maryland, and engage with us online and in person! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram; take the time to volunteer at one of our warehouses; participate in one of our multiple virtual food drives; or simply donate food or funds to help us fight hunger.
How much food can a $1 donation buy?
$1 can buy three meals. You can do the math, but that means that a $25 donation could provide 75 meals for hungry families in Maryland.
What percentage of the Maryland Food Bank’s revenue goes directly towards ending hunger?
Of the Maryland Food Bank’s total revenue, 92% goes directly toward buying and distributing food to hungry Marylanders. That means just 8% of the food bank’s revenue is put toward general administration and fundraising costs—a remarkably low overhead for an organization of its size.
For a copy of our Form 990, visit our GuideStar profile.
How can I sign up to volunteer at the Maryland Food Bank?
You can sign up by following the step-by-step instructions online or by calling the volunteer coordinator at the branch nearest you. Please note: All volunteers must schedule their sessions ahead of time.
Can I volunteer at the Maryland Food Bank without making an appointment?
No. Due to safety regulations and warehouse productivity we cannot accept walk-ins. Please schedule in advance if you are interested in volunteering with us.
For Prospective Network Partners
What is a network partner?
All food banks distribute food to a broad network of hunger-relief agencies, including schools, food pantries, homeless shelters, faith-based organizations, and community centers. The Maryland Food Bank refers to these agencies as network partners.
How can I become a member of Maryland Food Bank's network?
All MFB network partners must meet certain eligibility requirements and uphold high standards of charitable service. Among other requirements, all network partners are required to give food to clients free of charge, and to treat clients with dignity and respect. To find out more about becoming a partner, call (410) 737-8282 ext. 238.
What are the benefits of becoming a partner?
The Maryland Food Bank’s extensive network of retailers, farmers, and corporate food producers allows it to provide a stream of fresh, nutritious food to its network partners. All MFB network partners gain access to the Maryland Food Bank’s menu—an online inventory system that keeps track of the food available in the warehouse. Network partners can order food through this system, and can request a delivery or come directly to pick it up.
What is a shared maintenance fee?
Like many other large food banks, the Maryland Food Bank does ask its network partners to pay a small shared-maintenance fee when ordering food—this fee helps the Maryland Food Bank offset the cost of maintenance and utilities for its warehouse space.