• Whether or not you qualify to receive free food depends on your situation. Do you represent a charity? Are you a single mother or an individual who is homeless, unemployed or physically unable to provide for yourself? You might have to show proof that you fit program requirements for those in need.

    For charity organizations

    If you're hosting a charity event and want to serve food to volunteers, craft a letter of request and mail or deliver it to a supermarket or a restaurant that caters. Include your Tax ID number, your organization's name, the nature of the event and amount of food you need. Warehouse stores such as Costco might give you its day-old bakery products, which you'll need to pick up yourself the next day.

    For specific individuals

    If you're a single mother, senior citizen, disabled or under the age of 18, there might be special free-food services for your demographic. Women's support organizations sometimes offer bags of groceries, while soup kitchens (see below) might operate solely in the interest of seniors, the youth or the physically challenged. The same holds true for low-income pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women. Ask a local church, community center or senior organization to see if there are resources in your area.

    Food Banks

    Check your local area for food banks. These are resources that provide free food to anyone who is in need. The advantage of food banks is they provide food you can take home to prepare into meals. This is helpful for having the provisions to feed yourself for more than one meal.

    Soup Kitchens

    Soup kitchens are typically open for set hours and provide free meals to a specific group of people. However, some soup kitchens are nonexclusive and welcome anyone who is hungry. Visit local churches to see if they have information about soup kitchens in your area.

    Government Assistance

    To apply for temporary food stamps, see Resources for more information. The process of applying and gaining acceptance can take several hours; plan for a long wait at an agency office.


    In many states, dialing "211" helps individuals and families to navigate the confusing maze of health and human service agency phone numbers. By simply dialing 211, those in need of assistance are referred or immediately transferred to appropriate agencies and community organizations. Food bank information is often immediately available.


    OC Food Bank


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