After a huge Thanksgiving meal, hunger may be the last thing on your mind—but sadly, that’s not the case for some of your neighbors. A 2023 study found that one in nine Georgians are food insecure, which means they lack consistent access to nutritionally adequate food. Even more children—one in eight—are food insecure in Georgia. In the past two years, inflation has driven up food prices and put more families at risk of hunger: In fact, the majority of food insecure families earn too much to qualify for food assistance programs, but still can’t afford the cost of groceries.
For hungry families in Atlanta, food banks and food pantries are a lifeline, providing much-needed nutrition, as well as ingredients to prepare meals at their own table. As you plan your Thanksgiving gathering, consider helping others in your community by supporting these Atlanta organizations, either through direct food donations, financial contributions, or volunteering. You can find more food banks across Georgia through Feeding Georgia.
Before donating food, remember these tips:
- Always check with the food bank before donating perishables and fresh produce
- Donate do’s: Nut butters, applesauce, canned meats and fish, and cooking ingredients like oil and spices are always in demand.
- Donate don’ts: No expired foods, leftovers, homemade baked goods, or opened packaging. Avoid glass: Many food pantries don’t accept it.
- Don’t forget toiletries! Many food banks also welcome items like razors, toothpaste, diapers, and feminine hygiene products.
Atlanta Community Food Bank
One of the largest food banks in Georgia, Atlanta Community Food Bank partnered with hundreds of local organizations to distribute over 100 million meals to Atlantans in need last year. They accept food donations at their main location at 3400 North Desert Drive in East Point (read their list of most-need items) or charitable donations via their website. Volunteers are welcome at the food bank, as individuals or in groups. You can also organize a food or funds drive with your neighborhood, work, or organization.
Founded by the civil rights leader Reverend Austin Ford, Emmaus House has been serving Peoplestown and surrounding communities since 1967. Today, they provide a host of services, including a food pantry where families in need can restock their kitchens free of charge. You can donate food items at pantry, located at 27 Haygood Avenue, on Mondays and Fridays between 9 am and 2 pm; read this list of welcome items first, since Emmaus can only accept shelf-stable goods. Financial donations and volunteers for specific programs are also welcome.
Atlanta Mission supports individuals and families experiencing homelessness. They urgently need gently-used winter clothing for children and adults, as well as toiletries: you can find a list of much-needed items here. You can also donate dried, non-perishable goods at their administrative office on 2353 Bolton Road Northwest, Monday through Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Financial donations are also welcome, and volunteers are always needed to prepare meals in the Atlanta Mission kitchen: you can fill out the form here to get started.
Every Tuesday and Friday morning, Intown Cares sets up a free food pantry outside the Druid Hills Presbyterian Church. You can donate food directly on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at McIver Hall on the church complex, located at 1026 Ponce de Leon Avenue Northeast. You can also shop from Intown Care’s Amazon wish list, and have your donation sent to the organization directly. Volunteers are needed for both the food pantry and for grocery delivery drivers.
Toco Hills Alliance
The Toco Hills Alliance serves individuals and families in need in North Central DeKalb County. They run a food pantry and a hot meal program every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. You can donate food and toiletries from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Toco Hills Community Alliance, located at 1790 LaVista Road Northeast: read the list of needed items here.
Salvation Army distributes free food through its emergency services centers, which provide immediate assistance to individuals and families in crisis. You can drop off food at one of Salvation Army’s five service centers around Atlanta: here’s a list of what’s most needed. Financial contributions and gently used clothes, furniture, and appliances are also welcome, and you can volunteer for many Salvation Army programs and events.
Little Free Pantry Movement
Little Free Pantry is a grassroots movement where community members set up small, free pantries in their neighborhood. To help restock an existing pantry, find a pantry near you using the map locator; this list is community managed, so you may want to email the pantry steward or drive by to make sure the pantry is still active. You can also set up your own pantry and add it to the registry. Read the FAQs for more information on what to contribute and how to start your own pantry.
PAWS Atlanta Pet Food Bank
Families facing financial crisis often struggle to feed their pets. PAWS Atlanta operates a free pet food bank where pet parents in need can pick up free dog and cat food. You can drop off unopened food and treats—bags or cans of any brand are welcome—at the covered bin at the front gate of PAWS Atlanta, located at 5287 Covington Highway, Decatur. The pet food pantry is open for drop-ins or appointments every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.