15 Programs that Give Away Free Groceries

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Free Groceries for Low-Income Families.   Low-income families sometimes find it difficult to feed their families properly.   Thankfully, there are plenty of programs that offer free food assistance. These organizations usually go by the Federal Government Poverty standards to determine who is eligible for assistance.  When you qualify, you can get things like SNAP, WIC, vouchers for produce, and more.  Let’s see how you can get help.

What Are Government And Non-profit Food Assistance Programs?

There are many local, state, and federal government programs that help low-income families through various food assistance.  Additionally, there are also many non-profit organizations and churches, and charities that offer free food, groceries, and financial help.

Some of the most common programs include SNAP, Meals on Wheels, free meals for students, etc. They are designed to meet the nutritional requirements of low-income families and eradicate hunger. These programs also support the unemployed, children, seniors, and disabled individuals.

15 Government and Non-profit Programs that  Give Free Groceries to Low-Income Families

1.  What is the ‘Why Hunger National Hunger Hotline?’

If you need help with free groceries can contact WhyHunger to get referrals to the local pantries run by charities and other programs.  All the detailed information, including the eligibility criteria, applications, address, and contact number, is provided to the needy.  Anyone who dials at this Hotline is provided with information regarding various food assistance programs such as SNAP, free meals, etc.  Locate food pantries near you.

2.  Feeding America

Feeding America is a resource to help you locate food banks and pantries in your community.  The U.S. is a great country, yet there are many families that don’t have enough to eat.  However, since the corona, pandemic more than 50 million people are not sure how they can manage.  Many families live in food deserts where there is not one major supermart in the area.  If you are looking for a food bank or pantry that can supplement your grocery plan, go to Feeding America’s website for help.

3.  The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The federal government distributes a surplus of food to each state. Then, each state work with local pantries, food banks, soup kitchens, churches, charities, and NGOs to distribute free groceries, and meals to those in need. The services and food assistance offered by The Emergency Food Assistance Program are completely free.  All you need to do is contact them and pick up your items. This program aims at providing services to children, seniors, and disabled individuals.

4.  Department of Agriculture

Several distribution programs run by the Department of Agriculture offer free groceries, food, and other commodities to low-income families and individuals. These programs mainly aim at households with children and the elderly.  These non-profit organizations provide assistance and offer free services to those in need,  Some of the places that work with USDA include churches, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens.

5.  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • SNAP benefits are the most popular food assistance program that helps millions of people satisfy their hunger.
  • Millions of low-income and needy families and individuals across the nation turn to SNAP for help.
  • To take SNAP benefits, individuals and families are required to meet conditions, including the following.
  • If you want to apply for SNAP/Food Stamps, you should be non-disabled and between 18 to 60 years of age.
  • You should have a Social Security number and be a US citizen, an American Indian born in Mexico or Canada, or have a qualified alien status.
  • The applicants should have a low income and must not have too many assets listed in their names.
  • There are several other conditions that you can read at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

6.  Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC is a nutritional assistance program that the federal government runs.  It offers nutritious food and other commodities to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum ladies, infants, and children up to 5 years of age.  Additionally, WIC also offers nutrition education to pregnant women.  WIC teaches mothers the real importance of nutrition.  The education makes them aware of the government-run health programs.

The WIC program is funded by the Department of Agriculture across the local and state health departments. The eligibility criteria to receive the benefits depend upon the individuals’ family income and nutritional risk, which a qualified doctor must determine.

7.  Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP)

This food assistance program was earlier known as the NPE(Nutritional Program for Elderly). This was designed to help the elderly by offering the support they need at this phase of life. This program is run by the Department of Health and Human Services.  This program provides seniors US citizens with free food, nutritious groceries, and meals.

Also, the plans run neighborhood centers for seniors of all income groups. It offers healthy meals once a day up to five times a week.  Also, the NSIP also provides transportation assistance to needy people. Lastly, home-delivered meal programs are also run by this program to deliver food to disabled low-income individuals who can’t travel to the center.

8.  School Lunch and Breakfast Assistance Program

The school lunch and breakfast assistance program offers free nutritious meals to the kids at schools. The eligible low-income students can avail these meals at free or low rates from the federal government. In fact, the students or children with moderate-income can get their meals at reduced prices.  Therefore, this benefit is for the families dealing with poverty and the lower-middle-class families.

9.  Child and Adult Care Food Program

Child and Adult Care Food Program provide meals, snacks, and food to children and Infants.  Food assistance is offered at the family daycare centers and a few other health care locations across the country. Additionally, this program also helps seniors and adults living in daycare centers and nursing homes.

10.  Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

This nutrition program offers groceries and food coupons to low-income senior citizens during the harvest season.  To avail of the benefits, one has to be a low-income old with a minimum of 60 years of age. In general, the individuals receive free vouchers to purchase vegetables, fruits, and other items at farmers’ markets. These vouchers can also be used at community-run roadside stands and programs.


11.  Commodity Supplemental Food Program(CSFP)

Commodity Supplemental Food Program is funded by the federal government and is very close to the WIC.  However, instead of helping only women and children, this program also offers nutritional assistance to seniors over 60. It offers foods from USDA commodities for improving the health and nutrition of eligible individuals.

12.  Feeding America BackPack

Feeding America offers free meals, groceries, snacks, and other food items to students across the nation.  All the food items are delivered free from any cost regardless of their income and financial condition. Generally, a backpack full of nutritious groceries, snacks, and meals is provided to the students to get some nutrition over their holiday break or weekend. Not just the students but their families can also get these items.

Call: 800.771.2303

Other Non-profit Food Assistance Programs and Charities

13.  Salvation Army

Salvation Army is a non-profit organization.   It has locations all across the nation, in each state and city.  They run a wide variety of food programs for tens and millions of people every single year. A majority of their branches run pantries and food banks, while some also run soup kitchens to deal with poverty.  This non-profit agency offers both free meals and groceries.

They also partner with other local organizations to provide help to low-income families. Some of the different agencies that the Salvation Army works with include distribution centers, food banks, charities, and government agencies. They also offer unique holiday baskets on occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.

Community Action Agencies

Almost every county has one of the offices. The volunteers and case management staff at these agencies.  They offer all the necessary information and guidance about their services and how you can avail them. The specialists can help low-income families to apply for free meals, free groceries, and other commodities. You can also learn about the other government-run programs such as SNAP, WIC, and others through these agencies.

Call: 931-896-1800

14.  Churches

Each city and state has some churches that provide free groceries, meals, and other food items to needy families and individuals. They help both the unemployed and the poor without any discrimination. Many churches run their own pantries and food banks and a few other partners with other agencies.

15.  Charities 

Numerous other non-profit charity organizations provide free groceries, fruits, vegetables, and even prepared meals to needy individuals and families. They mainly focus on families having a financial crisis, especially the ones with seniors and children.

These are the programs and agencies that help low-income families through a variety of food and nutritional assistance services and programs.  Catholic Charities distributes groceries daily.  You do not need a referral and you can walk in any day to get help.

Other Help you can Get at a Food Bank or Pantry

How to Find a Free Thanksgiving Meal

There are organizations that give away Thanksgiving baskets or prepare Thanksgiving meals for struggling families in the community.  The key is to locate food banks in your area and call them or go to their website to see if they are giving away food for the holidays.  Do not be discouraged if you do not have a car.  Some will come to a community near you.   Find out their sign-up dates and apply for a Thanksgiving basket or meal before November.

What Food Do they Give Out?

  • Turkeys:  Many food banks give out turkeys.  Preference is given out to families with children.  You may also be given a food voucher to purchase a bird of your choice at the grocery store.  If no turkeys are available they will substitute it with chicken or some other meat.
  • Dine In:  You can go to a church food pantry or sit down to a community meal.  There you will get a full Thanksgiving meal with dessert and drinks.
  • Holiday box:  Some organizations give away what you need to prepare a traditional holiday meal.  Some offer home delivery if you can not travel.

Help for Families with Young Children

Food banks and pantries often partner with the National Diaper Bank Network so they can offer free baby food, formula, baby diapers, baby wipes, toilet paper, and more. Contact your local food bank to ask about resources for families with young children and infants.

Help for Seniors

Many food banks that partner with Feeding American, host “Senior Grocery Programs”®.  This program offers seniors a way to locate other benefit programs that help seniors. BenefitsCheckUp.org is a way for seniors to find help with prescriptions, rent, utilities, and more. Go to the site and enter your information to find the help you need.

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