Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Food Banking Overview


How does food banking work?

Food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina through grocery stores, food manufacturers and distributors, and community food drives. The food is collected, sorted and stored in Second Harvest distribution centers (branches) in Charlotte, Hickory, Spartanburg and Anderson. It is then distributed to a network of over 950 nonprofit partner agencies including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, low-income day care centers and senior programs.

What region does the Food Bank serve?

The Food Bank serves 14 counties in North Carolina including Anson, Burke, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly and Union and 10 counties in South Carolina including Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenwood, Lancaster, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union, and York. In our 24 county region of North and South Carolina, over 489,000 people live in poverty. Sadly, this number includes 159,000 children and 52,000 seniors.

Where does the Food Bank get its food?

Approximately 75% of the food we distribute is donated, 7% is purchased and approximately 18% of the food comes from government commodities.

How much food does the Food Bank provide?

In fiscal year 2021-2022, the Food Bank distributed 75 million pounds of food and household products to our network of over 950 partner agencies.

What types of food and other products are provided by the Food Bank?

In addition to boxes and cans like cereal, pasta, canned vegetables, soup, tuna and peanut butter the Food Bank also provides over 41 million pounds of fresh produce, meat and dairy products each year. These healthy foods are items those living in poverty need to stay healthy but struggle to afford.

Second Harvest also distributes a wide variety of non-food products including diapers, paper products, hygiene and school supplies. Our food bank also provides pet food for families in need and for dozens of pet rescue operations throughout our region.

How does the Food Bank help feed hungry children?

Second Harvest has made ending child hunger our #1 goal. With 159,000 children in poverty in our region we work with agency and school partners to help feed as many hungry children as possible.

Our Kids Cafe program helps provide nutritious meals and snacks to children being served at Boys and Girls Clubs, Communities in Schools Sites, YWCA daycare sites and other low-income day care programs throughout our region.

Our Backpack Program provides backpacks full of ready-to-eat nutritious foods to children at risk of hunger on weekends and holidays when school meals are not available. The program currently operates over 200 sites in 17 counties and distributed over 200,000 packbacks last year.

How does the Food Bank help feed hungry seniors?

With 52,000 seniors in our region facing the difficult choice between affording the medicine they need to stay healthy and the food they need to stay healthy, Second Harvest has programs aimed at ending senior hunger.

The Second Helping Program works with our Meals on Wheels partner agencies to provide monthly supplemental food boxes to homebound elderly throughout our region. The Food Bank also hosts open air produce markets helping to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to seniors at risk of hunger.

How does the Food Bank help feed hungry families?

Working poor families in our region face hard choices every day – to pay rent or buy food, to pay utilities or buy food, to take a child to the doctor or buy food. School-based mobile pantries are provided at high poverty elementary schools.

These on-site shopping experiences provide staple items, produce, meat, dairy and whole grain breads to help families provide more nutritious options for their children. Annually, Second Harvest hosts over 150 school-based mobiles.
The food bank also delivers mobile pantries to rural areas of our service territory. Poverty rates are high in these areas and resources, including transportation, can be scarce. Our trucks deliver up to 10,000 pounds per trip.

How does the Food Bank help feed hungry pets?

Families and seniors in need also struggle to feed their pets. Second Harvest believes pets are very important family members and work with our emergency pantries to also stock pet food.

The Food Bank also handles salvage pet food providing hundreds of thousands of pounds annually to rescues to help save pets. Second Harvest also donates supplies that help rescues save funds that can be redirected towards helping more animals.

What other ways does the Food Bank help the community?

Second Harvest believes that the food bank should be a community resource to those in need throughout our region. We have many creative ways that we are helping families, seniors and children (over and above food resources). Some of these include:
1. Providing Crisis Assistance Ministry with housewares, bedding and other useful household products to stock their Free Store;
2. Providing Med Assist and dozens of free clinics with all types of over-the-counter medicines to help those in need;
3. Providing school and craft supplies to Classroom Central to help teachers afford the supplies they need;
4. Providing bleach, paper products, trash bags and distilled water to Spay Neuter and Humane Societies throughout our region, helping to reduce operating costs and save more pets.

Food Bank Network


How does the food get to people in need?

Over 950 not-for-profit organizations (known as partner agencies) such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, low-income day care facilities and senior programs, receive food from the Food Bank either by picking up at one of the Food Banks four branch locations or through deliveries to rural locations through mobile pantries. These agencies are on the front lines of hunger, directly providing food to the community. 


What is a “Partner Agency”

A Partner Agency is a qualified not-for-profit organization that partners with the Food Bank to distribute food to those in need. These agencies cover the full spectrum of sophistication and stability, but are typically volunteer-run, community-based and under-funded. Agencies fall into several different categories:
•A food pantry is an agency that provides groceries to individuals and families. Meals are prepared at home by the recipients.
•An emergency shelter is an agency that provides food and lodging to homeless individuals and families.
•A soup kitchen is an organization that provides hot meals to individuals and families.

The Food Bank's Agency Services Department regularly monitors all agencies for proper food storage, handling and distribution. Along with partnership, agencies receive advice, training and technical assistance. Agencies are grouped into regional networks to facilitate cooperative problem-solving, resource sharing and support.

How does a charity become a Partner Agency?

In order for an organization to become a Partner Agency with the Food Bank, the organization must meet a number of guidelines. You may request an application after viewing this page which provides information on the guidelines required.

If you have questions please contact Kari Winters, Agency Services Manager, at

If I need food assistance, how can I get it?

Individuals and families in need of food assistance can use our Agency Finder to find a site near them. If you do not have computer access call the Food Bank’s main line, 704-376-1785, and our receptionist will assist you.

For long-term assistance, individuals and families should refer to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website in North Carolina and the South Carolina Department of Social Services website in South Carolina.

Food Bank Finances


From where does Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina get its funding?

The majority of funding comes from individuals, corporations, foundations, organizations, churches, special events and community food/fund drives.

Is my donation to the Food Bank tax-deductible?

As a registered 501c(3) organization established in 1981, all monetary donations to the Food Bank are fully tax deductible. Our EIN (or tax ID number) is 56-1352593. View our IRS Letter of Determination.
How much of my donation goes to feeding people?
98% of all contributions go directly to programs and helping those in need. This means only 2% of your donation goes to administrative overhead, making the Food Bank one of the most efficient charities in our region. The Food Bank also has a Charity Navigator Four-Star Rating indicating sound financial management and organizational efficiency. Read more about the impact of your donation in our Annual Report.

Should I give money or should I donate food?

The Food Bank deeply values both monetary and food donations!

A food drive is a great way to engage community support and promote awareness of hunger in our communities. Many participants feel a deep sense of reward by contributing food that they have purchased at the store or pulled from their own pantries.

Other donors prefer the ease and efficiency of making a tax-deductible monetary donation. The Food Bank can make a tremendous impact with monetary donations: for every dollar donated, the Food Bank can distribute 7 pounds of food.

Why do I send my check to Charlotte?

In order to operate at the highest efficiency and comply with auditing guidelines the Food Bank has a central processing location for financial donations located in Charlotte. As our main headquarters and largest distribution center most of our staff are housed there as well.

The Food Bank has branch locations in Hickory in North Carolina and in Spartanburg and Anderson, South Carolina. These branches and the main branch in Charlotte facilitate food distribution in all 24 counties of our service region.

What if I want to support my local branch or local county?

Simply include this information with your donation and we will be happy to restrict the donation to the location of your choice.
Our Neighbors In Need Are Counting On You

©2018 Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina
500-B Spratt Street  •  Charlotte, NC 28206

Phone: (704) 376-1785 • Fax: (704) 342-1601   


Hours: Monday – Friday: 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 56-1352593
Feeding America Charity Navigator 4 Star Charity GuideStar BBB Accredited Charity     Feeding The Carolinas AIB Logo