Our Food Chain

How the Food Bank Works

As the largest hunger-relief nonprofit and the only Feeding America member in Southwest Florida, Harry Chapin Food Bank is uniquely positioned to lead our community in the fight to end hunger. Our multifaceted approach is leveraged by our membership with Feeding America and includes rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste from various retail and grocery stores, national food providers and farms.

We rescue produce from local farms that are not part of the Feeding America relationship as an extension of our food rescue strategy. Locally, countless organizations, communities and businesses collect and donate food that we use in conjunction with our food rescue.

The food is distributed through our program, including our Care and Share: Senior Feeding Program, CSFP, Harry’s Helpings, Fulfill Mobile Pantries, In-School Pantries and our Partner Agency Program, which is a network of more than 150 partner agencies to feed people in need in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties. Through these distribution programs, Harry Chapin Food Bank feeds more than a quarter of a million people a month.

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How much food is that?

Think of 600 tractor trailer trucks end-to-end, stretching nearly six miles.

What happens to the food when it gets here?

Like any bank, operating the food bank is based on deposits and withdrawals. It’s a massive effort that would not be possible without the support of donors, volunteers and food bank staff.

About 100,000 pounds of food pass through our warehouses each day. Volunteers help inspect, sort, repack and store the food for distribution, and warehouse staff pick orders for delivery or pick up.

Then our truck delivers or collects food. In one year, they drive more than a quarter of a million miles. That’s more than 10 trips around the Earth!

Retail Rescue Program

The Retail Rescue Program is a major source of food for the food bank.

Every week, we collect shelf-stable and perishable food from more than 140 retailers in Southwest Florida. Donations include produce, frozen meat and deli items.

For more information about becoming a retail food rescue donor, please call (239) 334-7007 or email retailrescue@harrychapinfoodbank.org.

Fresh Produce Rescue

Almost 30 percent of the food our clients receive is fresh produce that is donated by growers, retailers and other sources. These donations enable the food bank to promote nutrition by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to clients who typically cannot afford or do not have access to such food.

For more information about becoming a fresh produce rescue donor, please call (239) 334-7007 or email producerescue@harrychapinfoodbank.org.

Local Food Drives

Community volunteers are needed to hold food drives throughout the year to help our neighbors who may not know where their next meal is coming from.

You can organize a drive yourself or in collaboration with a business or group. Visit our Give Food page to find out more.

The Temporary Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

The Temporary Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income individuals. We distribute this food through designated partner agencies and our mobile pantry program.

To download TEFAP eligibility forms in various languages, visit the Agency Resources section of our website.

To find out if your HCFB partner agency site qualifies to distribute TEFAP foods, call (239) 334-7007 or email agencyrelations@harrychapinfoodbank.org.

Feeding America Network

Feeding America is the largest network of food banks in the nation, with 200 food banks, including Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Feeding Florida Network

Feeding Florida is the state’s lead organization in the fight to end hunger. The statewide network unites 12 member food banks (including Harry Chapin Food Bank) to provide a healthy, adequate, and consistent food supply to every community every day.