Basics

Become a Partner Agency

The Atlanta Community Food Bank works in partnership with over 600 agencies in 29 counties throughout metro Atlanta and north Georgia. In addition, we serve nine counties in the state's northwest corner with food from our Georgia Nutrition Assistance Program (GNAP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Our partner agencies offer thousands of low-income Georgians groceries and/or hot meals. Any nonprofit organization within our service area that provides free food to low–income persons may be eligible for partnership at the Food Bank. First step? Read these sections thoroughly and sign up for a mandatory orientation session.   

First Considerations

Before beginning the application process, please review carefully the following information:

Si tiene preguntas o algun otro interes, puede llamar al 404.892.FEED (3333) x1274.

FAQ

How does my agency become a Food Bank partner?
Your agency must meet the requirements set by the Food Bank to become a partner, and you must attend a mandatory agency orientation as part of the application process. An onsite visit is required prior to approval. A partnership contract is signed if approved.

What geographic area does the Food Bank serve?
If your agency is in one of these 29 counties you are eligible to participate in the Food Bank:

Bartow 
Butts 
Carroll 
Cherokee 
Clayton 
Cobb
Coweta

Dawson
Dekalb
Douglas
Fayette
Floyd
Forsyth
Fulton

Gwinnett
Hall
Haralson
Heard
Henry
Lumpkin
Morgan

Newton
Paulding
Polk
Pickens
Rockdale
Spalding
Union

Walton

In addition, nine northwest Georgia counties are assigned to the Chattanooga Food Bank.  We serve the agencies in these counties with GNAP, USDA food via our Dalton delivery.

Catoosa
Chatooga

Dade
Fannin

Gilmer
Gordon

Murray
Walker

Whitfield

Are there any requirements regarding the number of persons served by our agency?
Food Pantries must be open at least two times per week and serve at least 50 households per month. On-premise programs must serve meals at least once a week.

How does my agency start receiving food?
All approved partner agencies are invited to select "shoppers" who will have access to our inventory. All shoppers must complete an orientation class prior to their first time ordering inventory from the Food Bank.

Does the Food Bank charge for the food? Is there a partnership fee?
While there is no partnership fee and no direct fee for any product donated to the Food Bank, we do expect our partner agencies to help with a portion of our storage and transportation costs. This comes to us in the form of a "Share Contribution," which is a handling fee assessed by pounds of food received. This Share Contribution is never more than 16 cents per pound.

How does an agency make this reimbursement?
The Food Bank accepts only a partner agency's organizational check. We cannot accept personal checks, credit cards or cash. Some partners reimburse the Share Contribution monthly, others do so as they shop.

How often and when can we come and pick up food?
Currently, there is no limit to the frequency of trips to the Food Bank facilities. However, there are limits to quantities of some items available during any one visit. Shopping hours are weekdays 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. except Tuesdays.

Does the Food Bank deliver?
We do on a limited basis. As a general rule, partner agencies provide their own transportation to the Food Bank's 732 Joseph E. Lowery facility to pick up the product they've ordered. However, each month, the Food Bank transports food to Cartersville, Rome, Breman, Gainesville, Dalton, Newnan and Griffin.  We also make deliveries to agencies that receive prepared and perishable foods from our Atlanta's Table project.

Where does the Food Bank food come from?
Food and products are donated by various manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, caterers, food drives and individuals; food is also supplied by USDA programs and purchased.

What kind of food is available?
The Food Bank receives almost any kind of product that may be found in a grocery store, including perishable and non-perishable items. A weekly inventory list is available online via our inventory ordering system eHarvest.

What are the benefits of becoming a Food Bank partner?
Let us do food gathering for you. One of our principal missions is to empower our community. Releasing your time, energy and resources to provide services to low-income people rather than beating the bushes looking for food donations is one of the most profound gifts we can give to our partner agencies. Leveraging your funds and gifts with our resources means greater efficiency for all of our organizations. Additionally, our experience with a broad array of anti-hunger projects allows us to provide technical assistance to any partner agency regarding everything from program models to safe food handling and storage to advocacy work on behalf of the hungry.

Considerations

Space
In order to qualify for membership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB), agencies must provide a secure, climate controlled environment in which to store ACFB product. Product must be stored at least 4 inches off of the ground. This means that programs such as home-based daycares do not qualify for membership with ACFB.

Proper Use of Food
Any food obtained from ACFB must only be used for the approved food program. It may not be used for other purposes (church anniversaries, barbeques for fundraising, etc.) In addition, under no circumstances can the food program require fees for food, nor can the agency require individuals to work or volunteer in order to receive food from the program. Agencies shall not store ACFB product at other agencies and shall not share Food Bank product with other agencies or organizations.

Staff and Staff Responsibilities
A solid staff is vital to operating an effective food assistance program. The staff can be comprised of paid employees and volunteers. Regardless of who operates the food program there are many responsibilities involved.

The list that follows describes the duties involved with food program administration. While ACFB understands that many agencies may not have a different person to fulfill each responsibility, we recommend that each agency have at least two people to manage the food program.

  • Food Program Management: The person who manages the food program serves as the liaison between the agency and ACFB. This person is the primary contact for ACFB.
  • Financial Management and Accounting: There are many costs associated with operating a food program. A food program must be financially responsible. All food programs are required to keep written budgets to account for purchases, donations, services and other expenses. Accurate records keeping is important because it enables agencies to make more cost effective decisions about food resources and related purchases.
  • Record keeping: Record keeping is a very important part of operating a food program. All agencies are required to provide ACFB with specific information. This information must be recorded and submitted on a monthly service form located in eHarvest (details are provided during new member orientation). Required information is as follows:

Food Pantries:

  • Name and address of recipient
  • Date of service
  • Number in household
  • Number of children
  • Number of adults over 65
  • Number of pounds given to each household
  • Number of males and females in each household

On-premise agencies:

  • Dates meals are served
  • The type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack)
  • Number of persons served at the meal

All agencies must:

  • Keep a record of capacity turned away
  • Identify the ethnicity of people in each group served
  • Keep copies of ACFB invoices for two years
  • Keep copies of montly MSRs, GNAP

Fund Raising: The best financial resources a food program can use are monetary grants from donors and foundations. Successful grant writing requires an effective grant writer. If your agency needs help with grant writing, or if you would like to improve your grant writing skills, ACFB’s Seminar Series can assist you. In addition, many food programs host or participate in various fundraising events to supplement their food program budgets. The types of fundraisers that a food program may organize include car washes, bake sales, pot luck dinners, arts and crafts fairs and ACFB’s Hunger Walk. If you need fundraising ideas, ACFB can assist you.

Food Resources Management: Managing the food that a program distributes or prepares for clients is a big task! The person who manages food resources should always know how much and what kind of food the program needs. This includes securing as many food resources for the program as possible and ensuring that food is picked up and arrives at the food program in a timely manner. 

Order placement: Food programs place orders online in eHarvest. Food programs must have access to a computer and internet to place orders.

Client dietary needs: Address client concerns and improve services. Take into consideration dietary restrictions that clients may have. 

  • Volunteer Recruitment: Almost every food program that works with ACFB is operated by volunteers from the community. The person in charge of volunteer recruitment finds volunteers to assist the food program with tasks such as unloading food from trucks, stocking shelves with food, preparing bags and distributing bags to clients. The person who manages the volunteers keeps their contact information on file and schedules them for specific shifts and tasks. The volunteer manager also logs volunteer hours and accomplishments so that the food program remains aware of volunteer contributions. ACFB offers a quarterly seminar for volunteer training.
  • Client Service Coordinator: In order to be effective and efficient, each agency needs to establish policies for operating a food program. The person who coordinates client services works with clients and the community to determine how the pantry should more effectively address client concerns and improve its services. If clients have other needs that are not directly related to food, then the Client Service Coordinator should do his/her best to refer them to the appropriate resources.
  • Intake Coordinator: Many clients are intimidated by, or uncomfortable with, the thought of going to food programs for assistance. The person who coordinates the intake process for the food program welcomes new clients and explains how the pantry works. The Intake Coordinator also records client information such as name, address and the number of individuals in the household.

Transportation
Since an agency is responsible for picking up its food orders from ACFB, it must have the appropriate vehicle to transport the food back to the program site. This means that the vehicle must be able to accommodate the total weight of any food order you pick up. Many of our current partner agencies own vehicles, rent them or share transportation costs. As long as the vehicle can accommodate your order, the type of vehicle you choose to use is up to you. Please review the list below to learn what types of vehicles agencies use and the approximate poundage that each type can carry:

  • Cars can accommodate between 50-500 pounds of food.
  • SUVs can accommodate between 500-1,000 pounds of food.
  • Pick-up trucks can accommodate between 1,500-2,000 pounds of food.
  • Cargo vans can accommodate between 3,000-3,500 pounds of food.
  • Four-pallet box trucks can accommodate between 3,500-4,000 pounds of food.
  • Six-pallet box trucks can accommodate 5,000+ pounds of food.
Requirements

ACFB categorizes food programs into two basic types:

  • Food Pantry—community based, nonprofit food assistance program most often found at churches, synagogues, mosques and social service agencies. Food pantries provide a limited amount of food to individuals and families facing either food emergencies or ongoing food needs. 
  • On-site Program—A partner agency that serves food in its facility to low income persons, such as child care centers, shelters, and residential treatment programs. They are also referred to as ‘on-premise’.

Please note: With rare exceptions, agencies cannot operate the food program out of a home or store ACFB product at a home. Any food from ACFB can only be used for the approved program. The agency must have transportation to and from ACFB to pick up food orders.

Community Need
There must be an established need in your community for a new food program. ACFB reserves the right to review the concentration of agencies in your community. If a food program already exists in your neighborhood, then it may be more beneficial to collaborate with them. Upon request, ACFB will provide a list of other agencies in your area that you may contact to discuss community-specific needs. These agencies may also offer opportunities for you to learn about food program activities in your community via network meetings.

501(c)(3)
In order to be considered for partnership with ACFB, your agency must be designated a 501(c) (3) tax exempt, public nonprofit organization by the Federal Government. An official copy of your organization’s 501(c) (3) determination letter must be submitted with your application. Further explanations will be required if the letter submitted with your application is under a different organization’s name, such as an explanation of affiliation. For more information, visit the IRS website at: http://www.irs.gov/app/pub-78/.

Georgia Secretary of State
Your agency must also be registered with the Georgia Secretary of State as a registered nonprofit organization and be in good standing and in compliance. For more information, visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s website at: http://www.sos.state.ga.us/corporations/.

A Basic Business Plan

Each agency must have a basic business plan.  This plan should include the following:

  • Mission Statement: An agency must have a written, clearly defined mission statement. The statement should explain your intentions and it should support the need for a food program in your community. Here is an example of a basic mission statement: “The mission of the Country Harvest Pantry is to distribute food to the needy and refer them to community organizations for social services.”
  • Food Program Budget: Given that there are food costs, staffing costs, rent, etc., ACFB partner agencies must have a current budget for their food program. The Food Bank distributes food to agencies for a share maintenance fee of no more than $.16 per pound.
  • Criteria for Client Eligibility: Your food program must have written guidelines for food program participation which state your requirements for participation, as well as guidelines for refusing service to clients. An agency must practice a nondiscriminatory policy. Agencies that serve specific populations (such as people living with HIV/AIDS or seniors) are exempt from this requirement. If you are interested in serving a specific population at your agency, please be sure to indicate this on your membership application.

For further information on developing a business plan for nonprofit organizations you can visit: http://www.ehow.com/list_6890008_non_profit-business-plan-basics.html

Please understand that no matter what type of food program you establish, you are expected to serve individuals regardless of their race, color, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability status, age, pregnancy, or any group membership.

Food Program Hours of Operation

  • All ACFB partner agencies are required to follow a weekly schedule throughout the year. An agency must be open during the days and hours reported to ACFB. Temporary changes to the days and hours of operation are permitted, but the agency must report those changes in writing as soon as possible to ACFB. The procedure is the same for an agency that wishes to change permanent distribution days and times.
  • Pantry programs must have regularly scheduled food distributions at least twice a week, for a minimum of two hours.
  • Hot meal programs must have regularly scheduled meal times at least once a week. 

Public Outreach

The agency must post a sign that indicates both the presence of the food program and the days and hours of operation. This sign must be clearly visible to the public. It may be part of a church marquee or the days and hours of operation may be written on poster board that is at least 8.5”x 11”. In addition, a sign must be placed on the outside door that clients use to access the pantry so they know which entrance to use.

The agency must visibly publicize its presence and days and hours of operation in its community by distributing flyers or by listing its location, telephone number and days and hours of operation in a local newspaper or library. Agencies that serve only specific populations (such as those serving clients living with HIV/AIDS) are exempt from this requirement.  We strongly encourage agencies to list with United Way’s 211 First Call For Help Line. Agencies do not necessarily have to use the 211 Help Line, as there may be other ways to publicize. If you need assistance, ACFB can make suggestions. 

Food Sanitation Certificates

All ACFB partner agencies are required to have two certified safe food handlers in case the primary certified safe food handler is unable to supervise food preparation and meal service for some reason.

Equipment and Storage Requirements
The following equipment is required for all food programs:

  • 18 cubic feet of dedicated refrigerator space (for use only by the food program)
  • 18 cubic feet of dedicated freezer space
  • All units must have a cold storage thermometer in each compartment.
  • Temperatures must be maintained between 35°F and 40°F for refrigerators.
  • Temperatures must be maintained between -10°F and 0°F for freezers.
  • Dry foods must be stored at least 6” off the floor in a room that is between 50°F and 70°F.
  • Humidity levels between 50% and 60%
  • A hand washing sink must be accessible by food program staff and volunteers.
  • The storage space must be secure and accessible only by food program staff.
  • The agency should use containers with tight fitting lids.  These containers are used to aid in the prevention of pest infestations for items such as beans, rice, grains, etc.
  • A working telephone located in the same area as the food program is required.
  • A computer, internet and email address must be accessible by the food program manager.

Program Specific Requirements:

Food Pantry Programs:

  • Food pantry programs must be open a minimum of 2 hours twice a week and serve 50 or more households per month.
  • The agency must have operated a food pantry or an on-premise feeding program at least 6 months prior to the date on the application.
  • The agency must post signs that indicate both the presence of the food program and the days and hours of distribution.
  • The agency must be willing and able to provide food to those in need without requiring the recipient to pay, pray, or work in order to eat or gain admission to the food distribution setting.
  • The agency must post a sign that states there is no fee or donation recommended or required, to obtain food assistance.  ACFB will provide this sign.
  • The agency must adhere to all ACFB policies, as delineated in the Partnership Contract.

On Premise Programs:

  • Personal Care Homes must provide a copy of their DHR license.
  • Residential programs must provide a copy of an Occupancy Permit, DHR license and current client contracts.
  • Childcare programs must provide a copy of their DHR license.
  • Please provide a copy of your County Health Department Report, if applicable.
  • Please provide any Safe Food Handler’s certificate recognized by county.
  • The agency must have operated a food pantry or an on premise feeding program at least 6 months prior to the date on the application.
  • Prepared meal programs must have meal times that occur at least once a week.
  • The agency must be willing and able to provide food to those in need without requiring the recipient to pay, pray, or work in order to eat or gain admission to the food distribution setting.
  • The agency must have at least two food handlers with certificates in safe food service.
  • The agency must have a stove with a hood (vent) to ensure proper air ventilation.
  • The agency must have an industrial dishwasher or a three-step dishwashing sink.
  • The agency must have a hand-washing sink separate from dishwashing sink.
  • The agency must have one dial stem thermometer to measure the temperatures of refrigerator, frozen and re-heated hot foods.
  • The agency must adhere to all ACFB policies, as delineated in the Partnership Contract.

Pest Control Requirements

ACFB partner agencies must have a pest control plan, a current contract with a licensed professional exterminator, and extermination logbook.  The extermination logbook will hold your contract and receipts for each visit.  This must be available for review when an ACFB representative visits your site.  ACFB recommends monthly exterminator visits although some sites may require more frequent visits.

For an application to be complete, the following documents must accompany the application:

  • A copy of the organization’s 501(c)3 – Federal Tax Exemption Status Letter OR written documentation of affiliation with a mainline denomination on the mainline denomination’s letterhead
  • A copy of the program’s brochure or service bulletin
  • A copy of the program’s Incorporation with the Georgia Secretary of State, indicating Active and In Compliance
  • A copy of the agency’s basic business plan
  • A copy of the budget for the food program
  • A sample of your record keeping system, including your client intake form and copies of the last 3 months of your distribution records
  • A voided organizational check
  • A signed and dated copy of the ACFB Partnership Contract
  • Any other supporting documentation requested by the ACFB Agency Relations Department
  • A copy of your client intake form application
Mandatory Orientation

As part of the application process (and before you can fill out your application), you will be required to attend a mandatory orientation class. Classes will be offered throughout the year to organizations interested in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank. BOTH your agency's executive director AND the person responsible for overseeing the food distribution program must attend the orientation class. Registration for classes will begin approximately 3 weeks before the scheduled class. 

The class will outline procedures and requirements for partnership with the Food Bank. Guests must pre-register for the class and present a photo ID. The application will be reviewed and provided at the end of the orientation class. Agencies will have 6 weeks from the date of the orientation class to submit the application and all required documentation. 

Questions can be emailed to agency.applications@acfb.org.

Click on the date that you'd like to register for.