Why Cash Donations are So Valuable to Food Banks

Why Cash Donations are So Valuable to Food Banks

Donating food is core to the work of food banks, including the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Volunteering is also critical and allows food banks to glean, sort, package and distribute food throughout their service areas. While food donations and donated time are greatly appreciated, the Food Bank also relies on monetary donations, which provide the greatest flexibility in the fight against hunger.

Monetary Donations Meet Donated Food and Labor to Multiply in Impact

Many people wonder how the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank can provide 4 meals for each $1 donated. For more on that topic, visit this related blog post. Essentially, the Food Bank benefits from donated food and volunteer time, allowing the funds to support the transportation, storage and administration of the Food Bank’s essential work.

Suppose you want to help the Food Bank, and you decide to go to the store to purchase 15 cans of soup, and you spend about $25. If the cans of soup are 10 ounces, that’d be less than the 1.2 pounds that equal a meal according to Feeding America, but for this example, let’s say one can is one meal, so for $25, you provided 15 meals.

Now let’s say you donated $25 to the Food Bank. Because that money is combined with donated food and donated labor, those same funds provide 100 meals – 85 more meals than purchasing the canned items and bringing them to the Food Bank. Not to mention, canned food items are often high in sodium, and while the Food Bank does provide shelf-stable items, the LA Regional Food Bank also distributes fresh produce, frozen protein, dairy and other healthy items. About 17% of the food distributed by the LA Regional Food Bank in 2021 was fresh produce, and the vast majority of all food distributed is rated as nutritious.

When Purchasing Food, Food Banks are Able to Get More from the Same Amount of Money

While the majority of food is donated to the LA Regional Food Bank, some of the items do need to be purchased. Food banks are able to purchase food wholesale at various points in the supply chain so that $1.50 can of soup costs far less if it is purchased in bulk, and it also saves on transportation costs and fuel consumption (one semi is better than hundreds of personal vehicles making hundreds of trips to a donation site). Some of the most commonly purchased items are:

  • Turkeys
  • Canned Beans (lima, pintos, red, etc)
  • Canned Vegetables (carrots, corn, mixed vegetables, etc.)
  • Canned Fruit in Juice (mixed fruit, pears, pineapple, etc.)
  • Canned White Meat Chicken
  • Chunk Light Tuna in Water
  • Dry Beans (black-eyed peas, navy, pintos, etc)
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Peanut Butter
  • Spaghetti Sauce

96% Of All Revenue Goes Directly to Programs

The LA Regional Food Bank’s mission is to mobilize resources to fight hunger in our community. That’s why very little is lost to administration (which is also an important part of the work) and almost all monetary donations go to actual programs to support the community. Funding helps the Food Bank safely prepare, store and transport donated food so that it can get into the hands of those who need it most.

Now that you understand the benefits of donating cash to the Food Bank, we kindly ask for your support in our mission.

Consider Donating Monthly: $23 each month helps to provide a year’s worth of food to someone in need.

More Stories from the LA Regional Food Bank

How the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Services the Unhoused Population in LA County

The Food Bank serves 800,000 individuals each month through direct programs and its 600+ partner agencies, including the unhoused population. Learn more.

Inflation is Impacting Individuals of All Walks of Life

Inflation has hit a 40-year high as low and middle-income households struggle to make ends meet. Learn more here.

The Food Bank Faces a Busy Summer

As inflation rises, so does the need for food assistance. The Food Bank is here to help. Learn more.

Food Distributions Help Families Struggling with Inflation

The LA Regional Food Bank hosts weekly drive-through food distributions throughout LA County to help alleviate hunger. Learn more about their impact.

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