Capital Area Food BankFaces of Hunger
Washington, D.C. - Memorial BridgeSERVING THE WASHINGTON, DC METROPOLITAN AREA
DISTRIBUTING FOOD, NOURISHING OUR COMMUNITYHOMEVOLUNTEERCAMPAIGNSEVENTS
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Frequently Asked Questions

ABOUT OUR WORK

Q. What is the Capital Area Food Bank?
The Capital Area Food Bank opened its doors on January 15, 1980, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday.  The CAFB is the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area’s largest, public nonprofit food and nutrition resource.  Each year we distribute millions of pounds of food through our network of member agencies, including fresh produce.  We also provide educational programs surrounding hunger, poverty and nutrition.

The CAFB is a member of America’s Second Harvest, the national network of food banks.  As an independent 501 (c) (3) organization, the Capital Area Food Bank was profiled in Washingtonian Magazine as one of the 20 Best Charities in the Region.

Q. Where is the Capital Area Food Bank located?
The main office and warehouse is located at 645 Taylor Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20017.  The Northern Virginia Branch is located at 6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, VA 22079.

Q. How does the Capital Area Food Bank help those who are hungry in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area?
The CAFB provides food and nutrition and education resources to over 700 member agencies that serve the Washington Metro area’s poor. 

Q. How does the Food Bank acquire food?
Food is sourced from more than 400 manufacturers, retailers, distributors, grocers, growers, processors, the food industry, America’s Second Harvest and from food drives.  Giant Food and Safeway grocery stores are the largest donors.

Q. Does the Food Bank charge for food?
The Capital Area Food Bank does not charge for food nor do our member agencies charge for food.  However there is a shared maintenance charge ranging from $.07 per pound that helps off-set the cost of handling and delivery.  There is no shared maintenance charge at all for fresh produce.

Q. How much food is distributed?
When the Capital Area Food Bank was started, we delivered 1,539 pounds of food per month.  Today, we distribute of 1.6 million pounds of food each month through over 700 member agencies.  We serve over 383,000 residents and distribute approximately 20 million pounds of food each year.

Q. Can the hungry get food directly from the Food Bank?
No.  The food is collected, stored and repackaged at the warehouse and then distributed to partner agencies that are also 501 (c) (3) organizations.  These nonprofit community programs then either prepare the food and serve it or distribute bags of food to those in need.  If you or someone you know needs emergency food assistance, click here or call our Hunger Lifeline at (202) 639-9770. 

Q. Are nutrition and safe food handling issues for the Food Bank?
The Capital Area Food Bank has several nutrition programs and a safe food handling course.  There are dieticians on staff who work closely with our member agencies.  Member agencies are inspected periodically by food bank staff.  Our warehouses are inspected by the USDA, America’s Second Harvest and the Department of Health.

ABOUT HUNGER

Q. How does the Capital Area Food Bank define poverty?
The Capital Area Food Bank defines poverty based upon 185% of the federal poverty guidelines.  This means that a household may earn up to 185% of the U.S. government's standard of poverty and still be considered "in poverty."  This measure (and other multiples such as 125%, 150% and even 200% of poverty) is utilized to determine eligibility for many government programs. 

Poverty and hunger are directly correlated and the CAFB has found that those who live in poverty are at risk of or suffering from hunger.

The official federal poverty level for a family of three is an annual household income of $15,670 (except Alaska and Hawaii).  185% of poverty for a family of three is $28,989 which is still not enough for life's basic necessities.

The official federal poverty level for a family of four is an annual household income of $18,850 (except Alaska and Hawaii).  185% of poverty for a family of three is $34,872 which is still not enough for a comfortable living.

Q. Does hunger really exist in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area?
In the Washington Metro Area, more than 633,000 residents are at risk of or experiencing hunger. 

Last year, the Food Bank distributed nearly 20 million pounds of food, including 6 million pounds of fresh produce through our network of member agencies.

Q. Why are so many people hungry?
There are many reasons that people find themselves at risk of hunger.  In recent years the economy has taken its toll on the working poor – those with low-paying jobs.  In the Washington, D.C. area housing costs are soaring and low income housing is difficult to find.  Utility and transportation costs also continue to increase, leaving little room in household budgets for food. 

In addition to providing over 1.6 million meals per month, the Food Bank works with those in need through advocacy and education about government assistance programs.

Q. How does hunger in the Washington Metro area compare with the rest of the country?
81.4 million Americans are at risk of or suffering from hunger and are living at or below 185% of federal poverty levels.  Over 633,000 Washington metro area residents are at risk of hunger.

18.2 million school age children between 5 and 17 years of age are at risk of or suffering from hunger nationally and are living at or below 185% of federal poverty levels.  One in five children in the Washington metro area are at risk of or suffering from hunger.  One in two children under 18 in the District of Columbia is at risk of hunger.

12 million senior citizens in America are at risk of or suffering from hunger and are living at or below 185% of federal poverty levels.  One in three of D.C.'s senior citizens is at risk or suffering from hunger.

The poverty rate for children under ages 5 to 17 in Washington, D.C. is 51.3 percent, compared to 34.5 percent nationally. (U.S. Census Bureau, CPS, 2004 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (POV46) and the American Community Survey, 2003).

FOOD BANK DESCRIPTION

Q. What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?
A food bank solicits, collects, stores, repackages and distributes large quantities of food to direct food service programs.  The Capital Area Food Bank is a food bank and a member of America’s Second Harvest, the national network of food banks.

A food pantry provides food directly to those in need who may have a place to live, but not enough to eat.  Food pantries are an important source of emergency food for the working poor.

Q. What is the difference between a food bank and a soup kitchen?
A food bank solicits, collects, stores, repackages and distributes large quantities of food to direct food service programs.  The Capital Area Food Bank is a food bank and a member of America’s Second Harvest, the national network of food banks.

A soup kitchen prepares food provided by the Food Bank into hot, nutritious meals for those in need.  For many people, the soup kitchen provides their only hot meal of the day.

ABOUT HELPING

Q. How much of my donation goes directly to feeding the hungry?
92 cents of every dollar donated goes directly toward feeding those who suffer from hunger.

Q. How many people will I feed with my donation?
For every dollar donated the Capital Area Food Bank, we are able to provide 3 meals to hungry people.

Q. Is the Capital Area Food Bank a 501 (c) (3) organization?
The Capital Area Food Bank is public, 501 (c) (3) organization that meets the Better Business Bureau’s charity standards.

Q. Why should I support the Capital Area Food Bank?
In a nation as rich as ours, it is inconceivable that anyone should go hungry.  In what is sometimes referred to as “the world’s capital city,” one in two children under age 18 is at risk of hunger.  The childhood poverty rate in Washington, D.C. is the highest in the nation.

The working poor are the backbone of many businesses and significantly contribute to the productivity and prosperity of the National Capital region. They live in households where typically at least one adult works, but struggles to pay for rent, utilities, health care and food.  However, many of these Americans go home after a long, hard day of work and often find themselves unable to meet the most basic needs of their families.  In the Washington Metro area nearly 60 percent of households receiving emergency food supplies have at least one adult family member who works.

By giving to the Capital Area Food Bank you are helping the area’s most needy children, families and seniors with a basic human need – food.  Your donation will support our efforts to alleviate hunger in the Washington Metro area.

Q. Where does the Capital Area Food Bank get funding?
We receive support from many different sources including donations from individuals, corporations and foundations.