What’s the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

Outside of the food bank world, the terms food bank and food pantry are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference! Food banks, like Second Harvest, are a part of the Feeding America network which includes 200 food banks that provide food to pantries and meal centers in nearly every community in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.  

Let’s break it down further! Food banks are non-profits that store and distribute millions of pounds of food to local food pantries and meal centers. Food banks receive donated food from agricultural partners, grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, and individuals in the community, as well as through Feeding America network connections. Food banks vary in size, usually dependent on the specific regional area it serves. For example, Second Harvest serves 21 counties in Eastern Washington and five counties in Northern Idaho. Food is distributed from our facilities in Spokane and Pasco to over 250 food pantries and meal centers spread throughout our service area. 

Food banks are non-profits that store and distribute millions of pounds of food to local food pantries and meal centers.

These food pantries are the distribution centers where hungry families can receive food. With food supplied from Second Harvest, these pantries directly serve their communities providing food and meals to hundreds of people per week. With different challenges in every community, there are many different types of food pantries to match the varying local needs. Whether it’s a pantry inside a school, a free meal center, or a mobile pantry on wheels – these are the front-end delivery vessels getting food to members of the community in need. 

While the Coronavirus pandemic has altered the operations of food banks and pantries nationwide, we are still providing food for people facing hunger throughout our entire service area. If you would like to learn more about Second Harvest or would like to volunteer with us, visit If you need food assistance, visit our Food Near Me Map to find your local food pantry or meal center. 

Service to Country and Community – November 10

Service to Country and Community – November 10

The Bite2Go program rallies people from a diversity of backgrounds around the simple belief that no child should go hungry. Our donors and volunteers come from the business world, the faith community and a variety of civic groups and clubs; they range in age from 9 to 90.

As Nov. 11, Veterans Day, approaches, we’d like to take time to thank a special group — our veterans — and acknowledge the multiple ways they serve our program and our communities as they once served their nation.

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Feeding Eastern Washington and North Idaho

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