The 40 Best Food Banks in America

November 13, 2018 by Steven M. Peters

Source: asiseeit / Getty Images

The United States is, in general, a well-fed country — at least in the quantity of what we eat. Americans consume an average of 3,682 calories per capita daily, well above the recommended 2,000 to 3,000 calories for men and 1,600 to 2,400 for women. Not surprisingly, then, about 40% of the American population is considered to be obese. And our access to food is so ample that we end of throwing away roughly 40% of what we buy.

A significant share of Americans, however, lack the resources required to maintain an adequate supply of food year-round. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2017 some 40 million people lived in food-insecure households — meaning that they “were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members.”

Federal initiatives such as school meal programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) help feed people.

Also vitally important in the fight against hunger are private or community-run enterprises like soup kitchens and food banks — the first of which was established in Phoenix, Arizona, in the late 1960s. A 2014 study by Feeding America and Oxfam America found that approximately 25 million people living in working households (one in which one or more persons work full- or part-time) use food banks — the majority of them “as part of their regular survival strategy.”

Click here for the 40 best food banks in America.

What keeps people from getting enough to eat? Money, most of all. “Food insecurity is inherently intertwined with income,” according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Accessibility is another issue. There are said to be some 6,500 “food deserts” in the continental United States — areas lacking supermarkets and other affordable sources of nutritious food.

According to Hunger + Health, a partner site of the hunger relief organization Feeding America, health issues often compound the problem. Poor nutrition has health consequences and makes chronic nutrition-related conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes difficult to manage. In turn, poor health drains family budgets, leaving even less money available for healthful food.

For many Americans, the approaching holiday season — and in particular the advent of our great food-centric celebration of Thanksgiving — seems an appropriate occasion to remember the many millions around our country who simply do not have enough to eat, ever.

Using data compiled by the charity-rating website Charity Navigator, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the 40 food banks and related entities, operating in 24 states around the country, that score the highest in accountability, transparency, and financial health. The ratings also reveal the percentages of moneys collected spent on programs and services rather than on administrative and other costs.

Methodology

Ratings of American food banks and related entities were calculated by Charity Navigator, a major charity-rating website. The site considered accountability and transparency and the financial health of each organization, using information from organization websites and from IRS Form 990, the agency’s “primary tool for gathering information about tax-exempt organizations, educating organizations about tax law requirements and promoting compliance.” Data is based on the most recent financials Form 990s available for each charity; most of the numbers below will reflect figures from 2017, though some might come from a year earlier.

Source: Courtesy of Ozarks Food Harvest

40. Ozarks Food Harvest
> Location Springfield, Missouri
> Charity Navigator rating 96.2
> Total raised $31,562,165
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.7%

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Source: Courtesy of Food Bank for the Heartland

39. Food Bank for the Heartland
> Location Omaha, Nebraska
> Charity Navigator rating 96.3
> Total raised $23,971,836
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.8%

Source: Courtesy of Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma

38. Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma
> Location Tulsa, Oklahoma
> Charity Navigator rating 96.3
> Total raised $44,211,260
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.6%

Source: Courtesy of Central Texas Food Bank

37. Central Texas Food Bank
> Location Austin, Texas
> Charity Navigator rating 96.3
> Total raised $73,930,903
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.8%

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Source: Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina

36. Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina
> Location Winston-Salem, North Carolina
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $58,899,982
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 97.5%

Source: Courtesy of North Country Food Bank, Inc.

35. North Country Food Bank, Inc.
> Location Crookston, Minnesota
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $10,916,670
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.0%

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Source: Courtesy of Fulfill

34. Fulfill
> Location Neptune, New Jersey
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $24,869,590
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.4%

Source: Courtesy of The Foodbank of Southern California

33. The Foodbank of Southern California
> Location Long Beach, California
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $79,231,317
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 99.7%

Source: Courtesy of Feed My People

32. Feed My People
> Location Saint Louis, Missouri
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $5,615,440
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 92.2%

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Source: Courtesy of Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

31. Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
> Location Tucson, Arizona
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $110,878,352
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.2%

Source: Courtesy of Dare to Care Food Bank

30. Dare to Care Food Bank
> Location Louisville, Kentucky
> Charity Navigator rating 96.5
> Total raised $42,392,119
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.9%

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Source: Courtesy of Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin

29. Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin
> Location Madison, Wisconsin
> Charity Navigator rating 96.6
> Total raised $33,490,339
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 93.7%

Source: Courtesy of Flathead Food Bank

28. Flathead Food Bank
> Location Kalispell, Montana
> Charity Navigator rating 96.7
> Total raised $2,171,554
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.4%

Source: Courtesy of North Texas Food Bank

27. North Texas Food Bank
> Location Dallas, Texas
> Charity Navigator rating 96.7
> Total raised $131,061,443
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.7%

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Source: Courtesy of The Food Depot

26. The Food Depot
> Location Santa Fe, New Mexico
> Charity Navigator rating 96.7
> Total raised $12,482,591
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.0%

Source: Courtesy of Community Food Share

25. Community Food Share
> Location Louisville, Colorado
> Charity Navigator rating 96.7
> Total raised $20,254,896
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.0%

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Source: Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County

24. Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
> Location Irvine, California
> Charity Navigator rating 96.8
> Total raised $50,821,929
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.7%

Source: Courtesy of Food Bank of the Golden Crescent

23. The Food Bank of the Golden Crescent
> Location Victoria, Texas
> Charity Navigator rating 96.9
> Total raised $7,179,288
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.0%

Source: Courtesy of Southeast Missouri Food Bank

22. Southeast Missouri Food Bank
> Location Sikeston, Missouri
> Charity Navigator rating 96.9
> Total raised $15,605,488
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.5%

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Source: Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio

21. Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio
> Location Lorain, Ohio
> Charity Navigator rating 96.9
> Total raised $10,909,259
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.1%

Source: Courtesy of Houston Food Bank

20. Houston Food Bank
> Location Houston, Texas
> Charity Navigator rating 97.1
> Total raised $197,170,582
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.3%

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Source: Courtesy of Northeast Iowa Food Bank

19. Northeast Iowa Food Bank
> Location Waterloo, Iowa
> Charity Navigator rating 97.2
> Total raised $14,490,487
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.8%

Source: Courtesy of Feed More

18. Feed More
> Location Richmond, Virginia
> Charity Navigator rating 97.2
> Total raised $55,504,763
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.7%

Source: Courtesy of Three Square

17. Three Square
> Location Las Vegas, Nevada
> Charity Navigator rating 97.2
> Total raised $78,428,934
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.3%

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Source: Courtesy of Central Illinois Foodbank

16. Central Illinois Foodbank
> Location Springfield, Illinois
> Charity Navigator rating 97.2
> Total raised $20,389,793
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 97.5%

Source: Courtesy of Maui Food Bank

15. Maui Food Bank
> Location Wailuku, Hawaii
> Charity Navigator rating 97.6
> Total raised $6,030,478
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.2%

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Source: Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

14. Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
> Location San Jose, California
> Charity Navigator rating 97.7
> Total raised $129,447,515
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.0%

Source: Courtesy of Alameda County Community Food Bank

13. Alameda County Community Food Bank
> Location Oakland, California
> Charity Navigator rating 97.8
> Total raised $74,790,732
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.2%

Source: Courtesy of Table to Table

12. Table to Table
> Location Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
> Charity Navigator rating 98.2
> Total raised $23,884,866
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 97.9%

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Source: Courtesy of River Bend Foodbank

11. River Bend Foodbank
> Location Davenport, Iowa
> Charity Navigator rating 98.2
> Total raised $24,674,008
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 97.1%

Source: Courtesy of Food Gatherers

10. Food Gatherers
> Location Ann Arbor, Michigan
> Charity Navigator rating 98.2
> Total raised $13,581,005
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.6%

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Source: Courtesy of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

9. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
> Location Hatfield, Massachusetts
> Charity Navigator rating 98.2
> Total raised $15,683,439
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 92.8%

Source: Courtesy of Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

8. Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
> Location Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
> Charity Navigator rating 98.2
> Total raised $81,182,635
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.8%

Source: Courtesy of Clark County Food Bank

7. Clark County Food Bank
> Location Vancouver, Washington
> Charity Navigator rating 99.1
> Total raised $11,526,418
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 96.3%

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Source: Courtesy of MANNA FoodBank

6. MANNA FoodBank
> Location Asheville, North Carolina
> Charity Navigator rating 99.1
> Total raised $28,576,600
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 94.9%

Source: Courtesy of Weld Food Bank

5. Weld Food Bank
> Location Greeley, Colorado
> Charity Navigator rating 100.0
> Total raised $20,946,875
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 98.1%

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Source: Courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley

4. Second Harvest Foodbank of Mahoning Valley
> Location Youngstown, Ohio
> Charity Navigator rating 100.0
> Total raised $17,961,797
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 97.1%

Source: Courtesy of North Helpline

3. North Helpline
> Location Seattle, Washington
> Charity Navigator rating 100.0
> Total raised $2,688,669
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.9%

Source: Courtesy of The Foodbank Dayton

2. The Foodbank
> Location Dayton, Ohio
> Charity Navigator rating 100.0
> Total raised $13,526,901
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 95.3%

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Source: Courtesy of Food Bank of Siouxland, Inc.

1. Food Bank of Siouxland
> Location Sioux City, Iowa
> Charity Navigator rating 100.0
> Total raised $4,608,427
> Percentage of expenses spent on programs and services 97.1%