Food Banking Terms

Community Gardening – what we call a community that comes together to start and care for a garden. Community gardens can serve as a catalyst for neighborhood development, beautification, recreation, therapy, and food production. The Atlanta Community Food Bank helps communities start gardens by providing seeds, education and volunteer support.

Community Kitchen – often referred to as a “soup kitchen,” this is a charitable program providing hot meals to homeless and low-income residents of a neighborhood or community. Most community kitchens are housed in churches or community buildings. In Georgia, an estimated one million meals are served each month at community kitchens.

Feeding America – the national network of more than 200 food banks (formerly known as America’s Second Harvest). Feeding America Food Banks have operated in the U.S. for over 30 years. Feeding America headquarters are located in Chicago, IL. The Atlanta Community Food Bank has been affiliated with the national network since it began in 1979.

Food Bank – a private, nonprofit distribution warehouse often affiliated with Feeding America, the national network of food banks. Food banks provide a central location for the receiving of donated food and distribution of food and grocery products to local nonprofits in their communities. (Note: There are some food banks that are not affiliated with the Feeding America network and some food pantries also use the term “food bank” in their names.)

Food Drive – A food drive is a community-wide effort to collect non- perishable foods for distribution to the hungry. Food drives are organized by groups such as schools, congregations, associations, and businesses. They are sometimes sponsored by a grocery store, TV or radio station, and/or held in conjunction with a special event in the local community.

Food Pantry – community-based, nonprofit food assistance program most often found at churches, synagogues, mosques and social service agencies. Food pantries are places where those without food receive a supply of food to take home and prepare. Pantries often acquire a substantial portion of their food supply from food banks. Food pantries distribute food to an estimated 90,000 people in Georgia each month.

GNAP (Georgia Nutrition Assistance Program) – federally funded program administered by the state of Georgia to provide funds for food banks to purchase high nutrition food products for distribution to partner agencies serving children and families with children. Funding approval comes from the state legislature annually. Not to be confused with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) which was formerly called the Food Stamp Program.

Hunger 101 – the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s educational project - a series of interactive curricula and educational programming designed by the Food Bank to inform a wide range of audiences about hunger and poverty and solutions to these issues such as food banking and government aid.

Nonprofit Organizations – refers to those legally constituted, nongovernmental entities, incorporated under state law as charitable or not- for-profit corporations that have been set up to serve some public purpose and are tax-exempt according to the IRS. All food banks and their partner agencies are IRS approved nonprofit agencies.

Partner Agency – the term used to describe the nonprofit program that gets food from the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The food is distributed by the Food Bank through a network of nonprofit organizations. These organizations offer one (or both) of two broad types of food assistance, on- premise meal service and/or grocery distribution. The Food Bank works with over 600 partner agencies in a 29 county service area.

Prepared Food Recovery Program – private, nonprofit program based on the food banking model but concentrating on donations of prepared, perishable food from restaurants, hotels, caterers, and others in the hospitality industry. Strict adherence to safe food handling is a prime concern, as is a quick turnaround of product from the donor to the food recovery program to on-site feeding agencies. The Food Bank's Prepared Food Recovery Program is called Atlanta’s Table.

Service Area – each Feeding America certified food bank has an assigned service area. The Food Bank has 29 counties in its service area, which covers the metro Atlanta area and much of north Georgia.

Share Maintenance Contribution – refers to the fee that Feeding America affiliated food bank partner agencies pay per pound of product to help defray the costs of product storage, transportation, and distribution. Currently, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and most Feeding America food banks set a “16 cents per pound of product distributed” limit on share contribution.

Shelter - A place that temporarily houses homeless people, usually overnight; meals are almost always served. Some shelters are for families, and others for individuals. Some have a limited time that a family or individual can stay, and others will let people stay for extended periods of time.

Hunger Terms

Advocacy – the act of arguing in favor of something; An anti-hunger advocate would be an individual, group, or organization that speaks out about the issues of hunger, and works to enact policies that will provide hunger relief. The Atlanta Community Food Bank participates in anti-hunger advocacy by educating and empowering the community to be involved in hunger issues, sending out advocacy alerts during the legislative session, and urging citizens to connect with their elected officials.

Anemia – a condition in which the hemoglobin concentration is lower than normal due to disease or as the result of a deficiency of one or more nutrients, such as iron.

Daily Calorie Requirement – the average number of calories needed to sustain normal levels of activity and health, taking into account age, gender, body weight, and climate; on average, about 2,350 calories per day.

Food Insecurity - refers to the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources. As defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

  • Low Food SecurityPeople who make changes in the quality or the quantity of their food in order to deal with a limited budget.
  • Very Low Food Security: People who struggle with having enough food for the household, including cutting back or skipping meals on a frequent basis for both adults and children.

Food Security – assured access to enough nutritious food to sustain an active and healthy life, including: food availability (adequate food supply); food access (people can get to food); and appropriate food use (the body’s absorption of essential nutrients).

As defined by the USDA: 

  • High Food SecurityDo not have difficulty securing food.
  • Marginal Food Security: Have some difficulty securing food. 

Characteristics of a food secure community include:

  • Availability of a variety of foods at a reasonable cost 
  • Ready access to grocery stores and other food sources
  • Enough personal income to purchase adequate food to meet nutritional needs for all household members
  • Freedom to choose acceptable foods 
  • Personal confidence in the safety and quantity of food available 
  • Easy access to good information about nutrition

Human Nutrition - the study of how food affects the health and survival of the human body.

Hunger – The USDA determined that while hunger is difficult to measure, it “should refer to a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation.”

Low Birth Weight – newborns weighing 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) or less, and are especially vulnerable to illness and death during the first months of life.

Malnutrition – a condition resulting from inadequate consumption or excessive consumption of a nutrient; can impair physical and mental health and contribute to, or result from, infectious diseases; general term that indicates a lack of some or all nutritional elements necessary for human health (Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia).

Nutrition - the study of foods and nutrients and their effect on health, growth, and development of the individual.

Poverty – The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.

Poverty Guideline – official, federal measure of poverty. The United States instituted the poverty measure in 1967. Module One, Activity 2 of ACFB’s Hunger 101 Curriculum explains the history and function of this measure.

Vulnerability to Hunger (at Risk) – a condition of individuals, households, communities or nations which have enough to eat most of the time, but whose poverty status makes them especially susceptible to hunger due to changes in the economy, climate, political conditions or personal circumstances.

Working Poor - a term used to describe individuals and families who maintain regular employment, but remain in poverty due to low levels of pay and dependent expenses.

Hunger/Poverty Programs & Terms

EITC- Earned Income Tax Credit – U.S. Federal tax refund for low to medium income working families. Many households are not aware that they could be eligible for this credit, which can often total more than $1,000. 

Food Stamps – offered through what used to be called the Food Stamp Program, these federal benefits were given to low-income individuals and families to help them purchase food (This is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP). Food Stamps are no longer provided in the form of stamps, but rather an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card similar to a debit card.

Meals on Wheels – food delivery program that delivers one meal a day to elderly people or people unable to leave their homes for medical reasons.

Nutrition Assistance Programs – are funded through the U.S. Farm Bill and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federal nutrition programs like SNAP (Food Stamps) and the Free/ Reduced Breakfast/Lunch Programs help to increase food security for low-income individuals and families in the United States.

PeachCare for Kids – a low-cost health insurance option for income eligible uninsured children in Georgia.

School/Summer Meals – (National School Breakfast ProgramNational School Lunch Program, and Summer Food Service Program for Children) are subsidized programs that assist low-income students to improve their nutritional status.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) formerly the Food Stamp Program, SNAP is the nation’s primary food assistance program for low-income families. The program provides purchasing power via EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards to eligible households, which can be used to purchase food items only. EBT is provided by federal funds through county social service agencies to eligible low-income persons. More than half of food stamp recipients are children. 

Social Safety Net – government and private charitable programs to assist the needs of low-income, disabled, elderly, and other vulnerable people.

Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) – federal supplemental feeding program designed to decrease risk for nutritional and medical problems in women, infants, and children. Assistance is provided through local health agencies and health departments to poor pregnant and breast-feeding women, infants, and children up to age 6. 

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families– federally funded, cash assistance program signed into law in August 1997. This program is often referred to as “welfare.” People must meet income qualifications, have dependent, minor children and begin employment or training in order to receive TANF benefits. Administered in Georgia by the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS). 

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – Federal food commodities made available to state food banks. TEFAP is administered in Georgia through the Department of Education for USDA.