Atlanta Community Food Bank

By Staff

Vol. 2, No. 4, 1980, pp. 22

Every year 20 percent of the food in America is thrown away for such reasons as improperly labeled items, undersized or oversized products and partially opened cases. In the Atlanta metropolitan area the problem of hunger and food waste is being addressed by the Atlanta Community Food Bank. A private, nonprofit corporation, the food bank bridges the gap between the hungry and salvageable foods.

The idea for the Atlanta Food Bank was first conceived by Bill Boiling, director of Street Ministries at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Boiling was concerned with the problem of hunger and, after visiting the St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix, Arizona, decided a food bank was a good way to approach the problem. The food bank is a coordinated effort of businesses, religious and civil organizations and lots of volunteers. It salvages goods from local retailers, commercial establishments, grocers, packing houses and food wholesalers and redistributes them to non-profit agencies which serve hungry people in the community.

Several things are needed to maintain a food bank: a warehouse to store food; refrigeration units; donors of salvageable foods; and non-profit helping organizations willing to buy food from the food bank. The food bank contracts with food suppliers to pick up goods on a regular basis. Participating agencies come to the food bank warehouse and buy food on a regular basis, thus saving the agencies time, money, and energy.

The Atlanta Community Food Bank asks for a five-cent-per-pound share contribution from participating agencies to help the food bank with operating costs. The agencies involved assume the responsibility for preparing and serving the food to those in need as well as judging the fitness of donated food for consumption, thereby freeing the donor from any liability. At present over 15 agencies have chosen to participate in the program.

A food bank serves as a vehicle to bring together all sectors of the community to work on a common problem. Businesses are needed to donate food and operating equipment, such as trucks and refrigeration units. An incentive for businesses is a tax write-off which allows a company that donates to agencies serving the poor to write off all costs in production and handling plus half the appreciated value of the item. Volunteers are needed to pick up food from companies, identify helping agencies, and do administrative tasks. Religious and civic organizations can also contribute by donating time or money, and by publicizing the Food Bank itself.

Boiling has plans for the Atlanta Community Food Bank which would increase its ability to serve hungry people. Because of Atlanta's proximity to agricultural resources and its commercial position in the southeast, he feels it would be a prime location for large-scale collection of salvageable food. Food distribution centers in rural areas could be established with increased food bank resources, thereby bringing hunger relief to greater numbers of those in need.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Atlanta Community Food Bank or about how to set up a food bank can contact Bill Boiling or Harriette Brown at number no longer current or write to Community Food Bank, 435 Peachtree Street, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30308.