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How the LA Regional Food Bank Distributes Multiple Meals for each $1 Donated

How the LA Regional Food Bank Distributes Multiple Meals for each $1 Donated

Food Bank staff are often asked, “How does the Food Bank distribute the equivalent of up to 4 meals for every dollar donated?” This amazing efficiency is bewildering to many with some people saying, “I can’t get four meals for $1 at an inexpensive restaurant – how is this possible for the Food Bank?”  The answer, in part, is our ability to access and leverage donated food and volunteers. 

forklift at the LA Regional Food BankLeveraging Donated Food

Since its founding in 1973, the Food Bank has accessed donated food from various donors, including growers, wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and others. While individuals donate a small amount of food through food drives; generally, cash donations are more valuable than small quantities of donated food. To learn more about the efficiency of cash donations versus small-quantity food donations, read this related blog post.

In 2021, the value of the food and product distributed by the Food Bank exceeded $200 million. More than 131 million pounds of food and product was distributed to our partner agencies and directly to children, older adults, families and individuals throughout LA County. Most of the Food Bank’s volume is nutritious food, but we also acquire and distribute diapers and other non-food items. Taking into account just the food, the equivalent of 107 million meals were distributed in 2021.  The Food Bank was one of the first food banks in the nation to rate the nutritional content of the food we acquire, so we aren’t just fighting food insecurity – we are also focusing on nutrition insecurity.

The Best Volunteers in LA County

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank benefits from an amazing volunteer workforce. Tens of thousands of volunteers donate the rough equivalent of 75 full-time employees. In 2021, nearly 160,000 hours were donated by generous community members who helped the Food Bank and partner agencies glean, sort, package and distribute food throughout all of LA County.

Amid the pandemic, the number of volunteers decreased, partially by design to prevent virus transmission, and partially because people were self-isolating and staying away from public spaces and events. However, because the remaining volunteers dramatically increased their donated hours, the Food Bank was able to meet the high levels of need provoked by the pandemic. 

Volunteers like Mary Connor volunteered many times each week, and many provided cash donations, too. Generous community members, like Mary, are the reason so many people receive the healthy food they need for themselves and their families.

The Importance of Donations, including Cash, to Food Banks

The Food Bank is highly efficient and 97% of all revenue goes directly to programs. This includes financial contributions made by organizations, individuals and others. Because the vast majority of the food is donated, and because so much of the Food Bank’s workforce are volunteers, the cash donations go to funding the Food Bank’s operations, logistics and programs. That includes utilities, trucking and paying staff that are necessary to keep the Food Bank working to achieve our vision that no one goes hungry in LA County.

More information on our financials can be found at LAFoodBank.org/financials. We are proud to be rated a “4-star” organization by Charity Navigator and a “Platinum Seal of Transparency” organization by Guide Star.

Your Involvement Makes the Difference

As a highly efficient nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of our community to continue our essential work. Please donate now, or sign up for our eNewsletter to see and share the impact of the work of the Food Bank.

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