Observations of 501c (3) food banks and safe food handling and storage recommendations for food pantries

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Virginia Tech


When I was considering an area of study for my final project, I looked back over the many years of my experience in the food processing, purchasing, and distribution industry to consider a topic I was not as familiar with. I found the entire concept of food and subsistence for charity very interesting. In my 21 years of food service, I had limited exposure to any 501c (3) food pantry or food bank; I also had virtually no exposure to any 501c (4) food charities. I knew they were active organizations, mainly run through churches, synagogues, and civic groups; I had no idea of their locations, how they receive inventories for distribution, how they distribute, nor how one would receive these benefits. My first experience with a 501c (3) food distribution charity was in mid-May, 2013. A box delivery truck with no temperature control run by a local charitable organization was giving away excess product they could not keep, in downtown Dunn, NC. The temperature was roughly 80 degrees F that day. I saw raw packaged chicken sitting on top of raw bell peppers and mushrooms, shell eggs in cartons on top of pastries, and packaged meats swollen from heat and exposure. It was then that I decided to report on the 501c (3) charitable food banks and pantries in my area to learn more about how the organizations work, how they are taught and implement food safety, and (given my observations), offer any suggestions in the area of food safety and efficiency.



food safety, food assistance, safe handling, food bank operations