About Food Resources
Food resource programs can be based on income, age or need or be a privately paid food service program. Some low cost food programs require proof of income, age and need, while others are based on a verbal request that you that you are in need of food. Some food programs are strictly private pay – where the person pays for the food and it is delivered to the home. Food resources can range from low cost home delivered meals to food banks to meals served at senior centers to private pay meals that are delivered via the mail.
Good places to start if you are in need of food resources:
Call 2-1-1 or visit their website
2-1-1 is a free and confidential service provided by United Way and funded by community foundations, Federal, state and local governments. The 2-1-1 program serves all ages across the United States. They have lists of food resources by geographic area on their website or call them through the 2-1-1 phone number and speak with a trained services professional. Keep in mind that some areas of the country may have fewer or more food resources than others.
Note: The 211.org website lists many other types of resources and services to help people in need.
Your Local Area Agency on Aging
Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 – Monday – Friday, 9AM – 8PM ET
For older adults, your local Area Agency on Aging can be a referral source for food resources and other services that help seniors. Call the Eldercare Locator to find your local agency. The Eldercare.gov website has a searchable database that lists information about different types of senior resources and also lists some local resources by state.
When calling to ask for assistance have a notebook handy and take notes on the information you are given. Take the complete name of the person you are speaking with and their title or operator number; have them repeat the phone number you called, the name of agency and their website address. If something sounds too good to be true, then call in a day or two and make sure you get the same information the next time you call. If you are not given the same information, then bring up the previous conversation and try to get clarification. If possible or appropriate, ask for a case number or incident number so that when you call in next, your information can be accessed.
Look at the Organization’s Website
If you have Internet access, go to the organization’s website and check out their resources online. Often more details about programs are posted on a website than what you can get if you just call the organization.
Access to the Internet
More and more it is important to have Internet access to look at organizations’ websites. If you do not have a computer at home and Internet access, then you can often find computer and Internet access at libraries, senior centers, and some non-profit organizations offer assistance with Internet access.
Types of Food Resources
Below is a list of different types of food resources. These are topics that you can ask for referrals for from 2-1-1 and your local Area Agency on Aging.
- Home Delivered Meals from a non-profit such as Meals on Wheels
- Meals Delivered via the mail – these are typically private pay
- Food Banks that provide groceries for free or small fees to people in need
- Grocery stores have websites where you can order food and have it delivered
- Congregate Meal Sites are a location you can go to and be served a meal in a group setting. Often the meal is free or has a nominal cost
- Meals provided by local senior centers are typically a group meal and the senior center provides other services and companionship. Often the meal is free or has a nominal cost
- There are also private pay homemaker-companions and personal chefs that will prepare meals in your home for an hourly fee or meal service fee
More Links for Food Resources
BenefitsCheckUp helps you find state, federal, and private benefits programs available where you live. These benefits programs can help pay for prescriptions, health care, food, utilities, and more. You can also get help with tax relief, transportation, legal issues, or finding work.
Meals on Wheels America
The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the oldest and largest organization in the United States representing those who provide meal services to people in need.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)*
To get SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state in which you currently live and you must meet certain requirements, including resource and income limits. SNAP income and resource limits are updated annually.
*In some states, if you are eligible for SNAP, then you are also eligible for low cost Internet services.