Are you eligible for free food? The answer is YES! We’ve found free food programs that will help everyone. The only question is, which option is right for you?
As you review our list, it’s important to remember that some of these organizations serve everyone and some only serve specific groups of people. We’ve found helpful resources for everyone so if one doesn’t work for you, just move on to the next.
Free Food for Specific Groups
Without further ado, let’s review the top 10 ways to get free food.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Depending on where you live, you may know this program by other names. It has been called food stamps, basic food, SNAP, EBT, etc. It just depends on what your state chooses to call their program.
No matter what it’s called, this program provides basic food assistance to low income families across the United States.
If you are eligible for this program, the government will send you an EBT card and will deposit money onto that card every month. The card works a lot like a debit card, except that it can only be used to purchase eligible food items.
On average, households get around $240 every month from this program. During the pandemic, many households received a boost of benefits.
The lowest amount that eligible households will receive is $20 in free food per month. Some people don’t think it’s worth it for that price, but there are ways to double your benefits. We’ve even found almost 1,000 freebies and deals for people with SNAP benefits!
You can apply for food stamps online.
Women Infants & Children (WIC)
Officially called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, this program provides free food for pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women as well as children under the age of five.
Depending on where you live, this program may provide boxes of food, vouchers to purchase specific food items, or benefits on an EBT card to help you purchase WIC-approved foods. It just depends on your local program.
You can usually apply for WIC at county health departments, hospitals, community centers, schools and more.
USDA Commodities Program
The USDA Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides a monthly package of healthy nutritious food to seniors ages 60 and older. This program distributes fruits, meats, peanut butter, vegetables, legumes, dairy, grains and more to eligible seniors.
You can usually contact your local Area Agency for Aging for more information.
Free School Meals
The USDA operates a National School Lunch Program and a National School Breakfast Program. These programs provide free food at school to low income students. In some areas, all students are eligible to enjoy these free meals.
When the schools were closed due to the pandemic, eligible students were provided funds directly on P-EBT cards. You can apply for free school meals with your child’s school.
Free Summer Meals
In the off-season when free school meals aren’t available, the Summer Food Service Program also provides free meals and snacks for children ages 18 and under. In many cases, homeschooled or preschool-age children are also eligible for these meals.
You can find a summer meal site near you by texting SUMMER MEALS to 914-342-7744.
Free Meals from Restaurants
There’s a really cool service called Free Meals that provides free nutritious restaurant meals to families in need. You can request a meal if you are sick, unemployed, or if you are a senior or single mother who can’t afford a meal.
The program screens every applicant, but those who are accepted will receive a free meal for four people. The meal can be picked up or delivered from the restaurant. Visit freemeals.org to apply.
Free Food Options for Everyone
There are a few options that offer free food for everyone, regardless of age, income, or other factors. If you aren’t eligible for the other items on this list – or even if you are! – the options below should be able to help you.
Many food banks will serve anyone regardless of age or income level. Depending on where you live and what is available in your area, your local food bank may provide nonperishable food, meat, dairy, fresh bakery goods, pet food, diapers, Christmas gifts and so much more.
We have found some really incredible offerings by food banks all over the country.
You can find a free food bank in your area at feedingamerica.org or by calling 211.
There are churches and charities all over America that offer free community meals to those in their area. For example, we have six or seven churches in our area that offer meals on different days.
You can find your local free meal sites by calling 211 as well.
Use this App
If you would like to get free food while you’re shopping at the regular grocery store, try the Ibotta app!
There are some really great deals on Ibotta and some of the rebates completely cover the purchase price, making the items you get completely free.
Many of our users have used their EBT benefits alongside Ibotta to get cash back on their food stamps purchases. It’s really awesome because you can spend all of your food stamps benefits and get cash back that you can use on other non-food essentials.
National Hunger Hotline
Even if none of these programs work for you, you can always call the USDA National Hunger Hotline for help finding free food in your area. You can contact the hotline by calling 1-866-3-HUNGRY or by texting the word food to 914-342-7744.
This hotline is operated by Hunger Free America and offers service in English or Spanish. Representatives are available to help you between 7am and 10pm Eastern time.
I love this program. No matter the reason, you can request a home-cooked lasagna or main-dish to be brought to your family for one night.
Over 30,000 volunteers have worked together to deliver over 200,000 lasagnas to families in need of love and kindness. This service is available in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.
You can request a free home cooked lasagna at lasagnalove.org.