Food Bank vs. Food Pantry

The difference… and the partnership.

Food banks are often times mistaken for food pantries. Unlike pantries, most food banks do not distribute food directly to the public. A food bank is a warehouse and distribution center where food is solicited, received, inventoried, and then distributed to local pantries and soup kitchens.

A pantry is a charity that distributes food and grocery products directly to those in need. Pantries have the responsibility to seek out and help individuals and families receive food. Food banks act as the supply line and are responsible for ensuring that their member pantries have the resources they need to feed those seeking help.

Food Bank of Central New York is a 74,000 square foot warehouse and office space where we acquire and accommodate large quantities of food purchased at bulk or wholesale prices. This allows us to resell food to our partner agencies at cost, which is about three times cheaper than retail price. The Food Bank services 365 programs including 250 emergency food programs across 11 counties in central and northern New York.  

The Food Bank also provides direct services to clients through programs such as Fresh Foods, Food $en$e, Kids Cafe, and Summer Food Service. In addition, we also engage in community outreach through SNAP that not only feeds hungry people but helps give them the building blocks to break the cycle of poverty.

Food banks and food pantries are not the same but they are partners that share the same commitment: helping to feed the hungry.