Greater Boston Food Bank
Greater Boston Food Bank
image by Office of Governor Patrick under Creative Commons on flickr

Our town has an excellent food bank that is a multi-church and charity cooperative. To qualify for a food bank visit, one meets with a screening counselor, and provides income information and a social security card. The food bank allows two emergency visits per year, per household for folks in our category, but this may vary for others.

We have not visited the food bank in over a year. We were extremely grateful for the two visits that we did take, at a time when we were in need.

The food bank is a highly organized warehouse with industry-sized refrigerators and freezers. Behind a counter, a worker fills grocery bags with a variety of canned, boxed, dry bagged, bakery and frozen foods. When we visited, the worker filled enough bags to load a red Radio Flyer wagon, that we then wheeled to our vehicle. The canned goods included corn, black-eyed peas, greens, beans, spinach, tomatoes, juice, sloppy joe sauce and spaghetti sauce. The boxed goods included dried milk, instant potatoes and cereal. The bagged goods included rice and noodles. The bakery was a flat of muffins and some bread. The freezer goods included USDA stamped cuts of meat from the government, hamburger, and on one occasion, a large bag of lobster. The lobster came from a local restaurant.

On the way out of the food bank are perishables for the taking in shopping carts. When we were there, the carts had potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce. We picked up a few of each.

We were able to make some excellent meals from the food bank food. Later on, when we collected some money from scrapping, we made a financial donation back to the food bank. We continue to receive their newsletter. Other donations that we have made from dumpstering include donations of car seats and clothing for women and children to the battered women’s shelter, and donations of dishes and clothing to an area church that does mission work. Everything that we have salvaged and donated has been clean and in excellent condition.

Today on the rare occasion that we can donate to a food bank collection box, we try to donate cans with pull-top lids, because we remember a time when we had cans of banked food- but no way to open the cans.

Food banks are not required to register with the FDA as a food facility under the 2003 Food Terrorism Regulation Rule, which states:

In the event of a potential or actual bioterrorism incident or an outbreak of food-borne illness, facility registration information will help FDA to determine the location and source of the event and permit the agency to notify quickly facilities that may be affected.

Here is the statement about who does, and who does not, have to register. Please follow the link above for definitions:

This new regulation pertains only to facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food, as defined in the regulation, for consumption in the U.S.


Food contact substances and pesticides are not “food” for purposes of the interim final rule. Thus, a facility that manufactures/processes, packs, or holds a food contact substance or a pesticide is not required to register with FDA.

Who must register?

The owner, operator, or agent in charge of a domestic or foreign facility that manufactures/processes, packs, or holds food for human or animal consumption in the U.S., or an individual authorized by one of them, must register that facility with FDA by December 12, 2003.


What types of facilities do not have to register?

Private residences of individuals, even though food may be manufactured/processed, packed, or held there.

Non-bottled water drinking water collection and distribution establishments and structures, such as municipal water systems.

Transport vehicles that hold food only in the usual course of their business as carriers.



A farm-operated roadside stand that sells food directly to consumers as its primary function would be exempt from registration as a retail food establishment.


Retail food establishments, such as groceries, delis, and roadside stands, that sell food directly to consumers as their primary function, meaning that annual sales directly to consumers are of greater dollar value than annual sales to other buyers. An establishment that manufactures/processes, packs, or holds food and whose primary function is to sell food directly to consumers, including food that the establishment manufactures/processes, from that establishment is a retail food establishment and is not required to register.

Nonprofit food establishments, which are charitable entities that meet the terms of § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that prepare or serve food directly to the consumer or otherwise provide food or meals for consumption by humans or animals in the U.S. Central food banks, soup kitchens, and nonprofit food delivery services are examples of nonprofit food establishments.

Fishing vessels that harvest and transport fish. Such vessels may engage in practices such as heading, eviscerating, or freezing fish solely to prepare the fish for holding on board the vessel and remain exempt.

Facilities regulated exclusively and throughout the entire facility by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that is, facilities handling only meat, poultry or egg products.

Question: Do you agree with the FDA registration rule, in terms of who should register and who should not?

Do you agree that municipal water should be exempt from registration?

Do you think that such a registration process is truly protective?

Our food bank does an excellent job of issuing a variety of nutritious foods, as if it has a dietitian involved. Should food banks have a voluntary or employed dietitian? If you work with a food bank, what are your policies and/or concerns?

cross posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL


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