Become A Partner Agency
How do I start a food pantry or meal program?
Providing food assistance by opening a meal program or food pantry is a big responsibility – requiring a great deal of time, funds and energy – but its rewards can be even greater. We often receive calls from concerned community members across the Southern Tier looking to help their neighbors in need by starting a new program. Chances are, however, that there is already an agency in operation doing the sort of work you seek to do in your community. Before initiating a food program of your own, you might consider partnering with agencies that are already distributing food in your community by providing volunteer or financial support to help them expand their hours or the number of people they serve. Most of our agencies would happily accept additional support from their neighbors.
If you decide to start your own program and would like some help getting started, please refer to our Partner Agency Agreement and Prospective Partner Agency Checklist to see the kinds of requirements included in partnership with the Food Bank, and note that you must be fully operational for three consecutive months before your program can be considered for partnership with the Food Bank. Partnership with the Food Bank is not required of all food programs – there are a number of programs throughout the Southern Tier that are independent of Food Bank membership — but is highly beneficial.
How do I receive food from the Food Bank?
Only partner agencies of the Food Bank can order product from the Food Bank. Applying for membership is a process that takes some time. The basic requirements are as follows:
- The agency has been operation for at least three consecutive months and has statistics showing the number of people served during that time
- The agency has 501c3 status or, if being operated by a church, meets the 14-point criteria for being considered a church
- The agency has an active worker (staff or volunteer) who has taken an approved food safety training in the last five years
- The agency has health department certification for those operating a feeding program (serving meals)
What is the process for becoming a Food Bank partner agency?
- Make sure your agency/program meets the basic requirements listed above.
- Review the Prospective Partner Agency Checklist.
- Submit a completed Prospective Partner Agency Application and supporting documents, including the Partner Agency Service Plan Questionnaire, during one of the enrollment periods (January 1–March 31 and August 1–October 31).
- Wait for approval from FBST & provide any additional documentation required.
- FBST representative conducts site visit.
- Submit $35 annual fee.
- Attend FBST member agency orientation (offered at the end of every enrollment period for those agencies approved to become partner agencies during the period) and tour at FBST.
What other considerations are there for becoming a Food Bank partner agency?
There are a few other things the Food Bank takes into consideration when vetting prospective member agencies.
- The Food Bank encourages partnerships so as to best serve the community. This guarantees our member agencies are effective and of high quality.
- We typically ask prospective members, especially who are starting new programs, if they have spoken with and worked with other organizations doing similar work in the area. If not, we encourage them to do so. Organizations looking to start new programs may find that their time and talents are best used working with an established program as opposed to starting a new one. Established programs can learn about what it is like to be a partner agency from other partner agencies and ask about the process.
- Similarly to the collaboration issue, the Food Bank makes an effort to share resources in our six-county service area and therefore takes into consideration the proximity of prospective agencies to member agencies. For a list of pantries and meal programs that are partner agencies, please visit the Get Help section of our website.
What are the benefits of becoming a partner agency?
- Access to TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) product at no cost – federal commodities for eligible emergency agencies.
- Access to HPNAP (Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program) Food Grant funding for eligible emergency food agencies for nutritious donated and purchased food.
- Access to donated and wholesale products.
- Opportunity to apply for HPNAP (Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program) Operations Support & Capital Equipment grant funding.
- Access to trainings, Annual Agency Conference, and other workshops, i.e. Food safety.
- Connections with other agencies within the Emergency Food network for peer learning and best practice sharing.
- Access to FBST staff for technical and logistical support Monday through Friday 8 am–4 pm.
- Access to the Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables nutrition education program.
Where does the Food Bank get its food from?
There are three categories of product – donated, purchased, and USDA commodities. In 2014, the Food Bank carried each category of product in the following amounts:
Donated Food: 5,677,004 lbs. (58%) Feeding America, NYS Producers/Farmers, Venison Donation Coalition, Grocery Retailers
Purchased Food: 2,784,555 lbs. (27%) New York State Contract – HPNAP and Wholesale Purchased Food
USDA Commodities: 1,407,866 lbs. (15%) TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program)
Why do partner agencies have to buy food from the Food Bank?
Many food pantry and community meal coordinators approach the Food Bank with the understanding that, because the Food Bank is a non-profit organization, they will be able to get food for free or “donated” to their program. While there are some products that partner agencies can order from the Food Bank at no cost to them, there are others that agencies pay a fee for. The Food Bank has two categories of product offered – donated and wholesale. Donated food has been donated to the Food Bank and is available to partner agencies at a maximum of $0.18 per pound. Wholesale food is purchased by the Food Bank in bulk (often by the truckload) and made available to agencies at a price competitive to the retail market. We are often able to offer lower costs because of the purchasing power we have in procuring product in such large quantities, as well as our connections through Feeding America. Many agencies cover purchased and donated food costs with grants that the Food Bank helps administer, namely the HPNAP Food Grant, which is available to pantries, kitchens and shelters.
For more information, contact:
Amanda Palme, Programs & Partnerships Manager