Food Bank Accessibility During COVID-19

Case Study Last Reviewed: July 6, 2020

Centralized information sources online or through a helpline or textline can provide key information regarding county or city food banks, such as location, hours, contact information, and delivery availability. This can increase the accessibility of these resources during a pandemic.

The following is a list of key findings and considerations for jurisdictions and communities regarding ongoing COVID-19 pandemic operations across the country. These are best practices for consideration and do not constitute and should not be considered as guidance in any way.

This document contains references and links to non-federal resources and organizations. This information is meant solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be an endorsement of any non-federal entity by FEMA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or the U.S. government.

Potential Best Practices

  • The Atlanta Community Food Bank offers a text-based tool for locating food pantries. Individuals can text “FINDFOOD” for English responses (“COMIDA” for Spanish responses) to a helpline, where they can provide their zip code or address to enable location services for nearby pantries.
  • A submission in a COVID-19 hackathon in Sweden proposed the usage of a helpline number that the elderly can call for tasks such as grocery shopping. After providing their zip code, the platform, “Telehelp,” will assign a local volunteer to assist. A similar model can be adopted for food banks, where individuals who do not have access to smartphones or computers can call for assistance in acquiring food items.
  • Stockton, California compiled and shared the locations, hours, and contact information of senior lunch programs and food banks in the area on a web-based shared document platform on the city’s COVID-19 information and resource center website.
  • The Los Angeles County/City Elder Nutrition Program has released a map of locations where older individuals can send family members or friends under 65 years of age to pick up meals. Contact information is also provided for each location, so that individuals can request delivery if necessary.
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, has an online resource that provides a map of food distribution locations, and links for individuals seeking information on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or 412 Food Rescue resources.
Last updated February 3, 2021