What is a food bank?

A food bank is a free service that collects and gives out food basics and essential items to people who do not have enough to eat.

There are many food banks and programs in Ontario. Food banks typically give you food and supplies that last 2-3 days. You can contact 211 Ontario to get more information about your local food bank programs.

Am I eligible to access food bank services?

Generally you must live in the area that the food bank serves and meet certain eligibility requirements. Some food banks require you to make an appointment in advance. Therefore, you may want to phone before going.

What should I bring to a food bank appointment?

When you call the food bank they will tell you what you need to bring to your appointment. Generally, you will be asked to bring:

  • Identification for everyone in your household (if available)
  • Proof of address (if possible)
  • Income information and expenses (hydro and rent)

What if I have special dietary requirements?

If you have special dietary concerns, like diabetes or you are vegetarian, you can tell the food bank staff. Some food banks serve specific religious groups and can accommodate religious dietary needs like halal or kosher foods. If you contact 211 Ontario for a referral, mention your dietary needs so they can refer you to the most appropriate food bank.

Food Shopping on a Budget

Some community organizations offer programs to help you with meal plans and shopping tips so you can save money and have enough food each month. You can also read our article about how to find low-cost and healthy foods.

For More Information

  • 211 Ontario -Search for food banks and other community services all over Ontario.
  • Financial Assistance - Financial help is available through various government programs. Find out what kind of financial support you may be eligible for. From Settlement.Org.
  • About Ontario Works - Official information about the Ontario Works program and links to related documents. From the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
  • Food Choices When Money is Tight [PDF] - Information on where to go for help when you don't have enough food and tips on how to eat healthy on a budget. From EatRight Ontario.

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Last updated: February 17, 2016 4005012