Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does East Texas Food Bank work?

The East Texas Food Bank was founded in 1988 and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to “fight hunger and feed hope in East Texas.” To meet the needs of the over 151,000 households served, the East Texas Food Bank partners with agencies throughout its 26-county service area to distribute food. The East Texas Food Bank also has eight programs: BackPack Program, Kids Cafe/Afterschool Snack, Summer Food Program, Senior Box Program, Mobile Pantry, Fresh Produce Program, Nutrition Education and Benefits Outreach designed to meet the targets of children, adults and seniors. The East Texas Food Bank distributed over 27 million meals in FY2023.

Where does the food come from?

The East Texas Food Bank receives food from a variety of sources: area food drives, growers, packers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, restaurants, grocery store chains and USDA. Despite getting a large amount of products donated, approximately 20 percent of our inventory must be purchased to maintain a variety of items for our partner agencies and the specific needs of our programs.

What kind of food is available at pantries?

East Texas Food Bank partner pantries and resource centers offer a variety of healthy and nutritious food from various sources. You can expect to see an array similar to what you see at a grocery store. As a non-profit food bank, the ETFB leverages different sources to ensure well stocked shelves. Some of these food items have restrictions on distribution:

Fresh Produce – there are no restrictions for fresh produce items, which are available for all.
Food Bank Purchased Product – ETFB purchases food from reliable vendors to ensure high-demand foods, like peanut butter and tuna, are always available. Purchased food items have no restrictions and are available to all.
Donated Food Products from Retailers – these food are donated by individuals, community groups and retailers. They are intended to support those in need throughout ETFB’s services area. Most donors prefer for these resources to remain within their local community and be served to families who qualify for food assistance
USDA/TEFAP Food Product – these food items, provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, are highly regulated. To access these foods you must be a Texas resident and qualify under income or household guidelines.

How does the Food Bank distribute food?

The primary method of distributing food is through our network of over 200 partner agencies and feeding programs that work in cooperation with the East Texas Food Bank. Food is either picked up at our distribution center by the partner agency, or it is delivered by 18-wheelers to agencies on our delivery routes. From there, agencies distribute the food to clients. Food is also directly distributed through our hunger programs targeted towards children, adults or seniors.

Do partner agencies pay a membership fee?

No, partner agencies do not pay membership fees but do help with shared maintenance.

What is shared maintenance?

Shared maintenance is a term that is used to describe a partnership agreement agencies agree to upon becoming a partner with the East Texas Food Bank. This fee is designed to share a small portion of the costs of operating the ETFB’s distribution costs with all partner agencies, and primarily helps to pay for the transportation and handling of products to our warehouse. It also helps to cover warehouse expenses and covers other overhead costs. Shared maintenance is very similar to a “shipping and handling fee” that you would pay if you’ve ordered online or from a catalog. By helping with the recovery costs of recovering millions of pounds of food, partner agencies can obtain more food for their clients as opposed to purchasing food at a grocery store. The ETFB average shared maintenance for all pounds distributed is approximately 10 cents per pound and operated well under the 19 cents cap allowed by Feeding America.

What are the benefits of being a partner agency with the East Texas Food Bank?

Agencies that partner with the East Texas Food Bank benefit greatly. They are able to secure more food than they would be able to purchase at a retail cost. Agencies also have the ability to gain a wider variety of items for their clients than they may be able to secure on their own in their communities.

Does the East Texas Food Bank sell donated food to agencies?

The East Texas Food Bank does not sell any donated food or grocery products to our member agencies and programs. Partner agencies agree to share in the recovery cost as a shared maintenance fee.

How does the East Texas Food Bank provide 5 meals for $1?

The ETFB has access to donated food from a variety of donors including growers, wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other sources. We are able to leverage the private cash donations we receive with other sources of funding, donated foods and the purchasing power of our national cooperatives and volunteer support to provide up to 5 meals for $1 donated.

How much of my gift goes to feeding the hungry?

96% of all support we receive, including financial donations, other revenue, and donated food, help feed hungry people through children’s programs, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and senior citizens’ centers.  4% of support goes toward administrative and fundraising costs, ensuring that your gift will truly help those that need it most.

How does the East Texas Food Bank compare to other charities?

The East Texas Food Bank has the BBB Accredited Charity Seal. This means that the East Texas Food Bank has met the BBB’s 20 Standards of Charity Accountability. The East Texas Food Bank also has a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator.

How many food banks are in Texas?

There are 21 food banks in Texas, each responsible for the counties in their designated service area. The 21 food banks are members of Feeding America and part of Feeding Texas, an organization that fosters and facilitates cooperation between the food banks through advocacy efforts and the coordination of member statewide resources such as produce and Texas Department of Agriculture commodity food.

What is Feeding America and how does it help the East Texas Food Bank?

Feeding America is a nationwide hunger-relief organization, headquartered in Chicago, IL. There are over 200 food banks in the Feeding America Network, including the East Texas Food Bank. Feeding America members are responsible for distributing food to more than 44 million Americans each year, including 13 million children. Feeding America assists the East Texas Food Bank by supporting the mission through its advocacy programs, establishing and communicating common food bank operating practices, and leveraging our partnership with national companies which allows us to secure more products and funding on a local level.