By Maureen McNair
Before we started the South Bay Food Pantry, I really never gave any thought to the difference between a pantry and a bank. But, the distinction is so important that, for instance, the Regional Diaper Bank prohibits us by written contract from calling ourselves a diaper bank. We can use other names, such as a diaper pantry or a diaper distribution, but not the word “bank."
Sometimes, I hear church members and friends refer to our South Bay operation as a food bank. Sometimes I correct people, sometimes I correct people multiple times, sometimes I let it go, depending on the circumstances. But, we are not a food bank. Our business is not to supply other agencies with food which the other agencies then distribute. We distribute food directly to the people who consume it. We are a food pantry.
The new federal legislation, the American Rescue Act of 2021, however, prompts me to clarify things I am hearing. I have heard people tell me the pantry is going to get federal funding under the new legislation (which at this writing, President Biden has not yet signed into law). I do not think that is correct.
The new law does provide for some economic aid for food banks. Food banks, such as the San Diego Food Bank and Feeding San Diego, might qualify for funding under the new legislation. Since both those organizations are food suppliers to our pantry, if they actually receive federal funding, an increased availability of food or perhaps a reduced cost of food — I don’t know — might trickle down to our pantry. These things take a while for the government and recipients to implement. So, I do not know right now the impact, if any, the new legislation will have on our pantry. But, I do not think we will receive any direct federal funding.
Your direct donations to the pantry are the only source of income the pantry has. If we become eligible for other funding, I will happily share that news here so everyone will have the opportunity to share in that good news. But, right now, church members and friends are the sole funding source for the South Bay Food Pantry. So, on behalf of all the pantry volunteers, thank you for your interest in the pantry, the work we do together, and your continued support!
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