Frequently Asked Questions about the Food Bank

These are are most frequently asked questions about the Thurston County Food Bank. You may filter the view by clicking a category in the row below.

Are non-food items available – like toilet paper, soap, diapers, etc.?2023-08-14T11:08:59-07:00

Yes, our Other Bank Program provides household and personal care items once a month at our Pantries. In addition, “Partial Other Bank” items are distributed on an as-available basis during Full Visits.

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Are summer meals for children available?2023-08-14T11:08:05-07:00

Our Summer Lunch Program distributes healthy sack lunches and snacks to children age 18 and under during the summer when school lunches are not available.

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Are there any food or non-food items that can’t be donated?2023-08-14T11:06:13-07:00

Cans and dry goods as well as personal care and household items must be unopened, in the original packaging and commercially produced and packaged. We cannot accept pre-cooked or home-cooked food.

Are there other places where I can get diapers and baby food?2023-08-14T15:07:50-07:00

Diapers and baby food are distributed (when available) at our Olympia and Lacey Food Pantries. In addition, The Baby Bank, the Family Support Center of South Sound, Family Education and Support Services and Dry Tikes and Wet Wipes provide resources. Check in with our Client Services staff for more information.

Are there special items for infants and babies?2023-08-20T00:00:42-07:00

Yes. When available, baby food including veggies, fruits, meats, cereals and snacks is offered to clients at a Full Visit. Additionally, a variety of baby and toddler formula may be available to clients at both Full and Supplemental visits. If you are expecting or have a newborn, you can receive a Newborn Bag with essential and handmade items!

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Can I choose the location where I want to work?2023-08-19T12:50:36-07:00

Yes. Click below for our volunteer basics page, where regular volunteer shift locations for individuals are listed. Choose the location(s) and schedule that fit your needs and Sign Up or reach out to a Volunteer Coordinator!

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Can I choose what I want to do?2023-08-14T11:04:59-07:00

We do our best to match volunteers with their preferred tasks and ask for your flexibility to meet our needs.

Can I choose when I work and for how long?2023-08-14T11:04:37-07:00

Regular volunteer shifts are scheduled Monday through Friday at various times and Thurston County Food Bank locations. There are also special programs and events at other times and alternate locations.

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Can I donate a vehicle?2023-08-14T11:06:47-07:00

Yes, proceeds from the sale of vehicles, trucks, RVs, boats, and motorcycles can be donated through our partnership with Arc Thrift Stores, a nonprofit charity program.

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Can I donate food that is past its expiration date?2023-08-14T11:06:23-07:00

Yes, in most cases USDA states that canned and dry goods can last indefinitely; our standard and request is no more than 3 years past date.

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Can I donate home-cooked food?2023-08-14T11:06:32-07:00

We’re sorry, but we cannot accept pre-cooked or home-cooked food. Cans and dry goods must be unopened, in their original packaging, and commercially produced and packaged.

Can I get food delivered to my home?2023-08-14T11:08:46-07:00

Yes.  We have a Home Delivery Program specifically for adults age 60 or older who qualify for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

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Can I have someone else pick up for me?2023-08-14T11:08:37-07:00

Yes.  They will need to provide a photo ID (or copy) and a dated note from you each time.

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Do I have to live in Thurston County to get food?2023-08-19T23:43:20-07:00

No. You do not have to live in any specific county or city to receive our services. No one will be turned away regardless of where you live, with or without an address.

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Do you receive government funding?2023-08-19T19:57:21-07:00

Yes, in the form of contracts and grants, but the majority of our funding comes from individual donors.

How do children get weekend meals through their school?2023-08-14T11:08:13-07:00

The Food Bank works closely with local schools in the Olympia, Tumwater, North Thurston, Griffin school districts and Wa He Lut Indian School to provide students with food to take home over the weekend. Please contact your child’s school if you would like to receive a FORKids weekend meal bag.

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How do I conduct a food or non-food drive?2023-08-14T11:06:05-07:00

We can provide you with collection containers and a scheduled pickup. Whether you choose to run a general or themed drive, you can find flyers of most needed items by program on our Coordinating a Drive page.

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How do I donate money?2023-08-14T11:07:21-07:00

We accept cash, checks, and money orders. Donation options include payroll deductions, online bill paying, using a credit card through our online service provider, and more.

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How do I sign up to volunteer?2023-08-14T11:05:35-07:00

All new and returning volunteers must complete our online application one time.

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Online Application

How often can I get food?2023-08-14T09:30:52-07:00

Each household may make 2 Full Visits per month and 1 Supplemental Visit per week.

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Is it possible to get food in an emergency situation?2023-08-14T09:50:15-07:00

Upon request, a 12-hour supply of emergency food may be available after regular distribution hours.

Is the Food Bank closed on holidays?2023-08-21T11:35:08-07:00

Yes. All Thurston County Food Bank services and locations are closed on the following recognized holidays:  New Year’s Day • Martin Luther King Jr. Day • President’s Day • Memorial Day • Juneteenth • Independence Day • Labor Day • Veteran’s Day • Thanksgiving • Native American Heritage Day • Christmas

Is there a limit on the amount of food I can get?2023-08-14T09:40:39-07:00

Some items are offered in unlimited quantities. For other items quantities are based on the number of people in your household and/or availability.

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Is there a required volunteer orientation?2023-08-14T11:05:26-07:00

Volunteer orientations are not required, but we strongly encourage volunteers to attend an orientation prior to volunteering. Orientations are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 4:30–5:30 PM at our Lacey’s Food Pantry (7027 Martin Way E, Olympia, WA 98516).

Is there a special food program or food for seniors?2023-08-14T11:08:29-07:00

Yes.  CSFP is a case-managed federal program for seniors at least 60 years old that meet federal eligibility requirements. The amount of food is consistent from month-to-month and is offered in addition to our other services.

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Is your organization a county entity?2024-03-04T15:44:17-08:00

No, we are a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We receive financial support through donations from generous community members and organizations, as well as funding from city, state and federal grants and private foundations. We also receive food and non-food donations from local retailers, social service partners and community members.

What are the most desired/requested foods by clients?2023-08-14T11:05:54-07:00

For a list of most needed items,

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What do I need to bring to get groceries at the Food Bank?2023-08-19T23:53:10-07:00

Visits to the Food Bank are free of charge and there are no income guidelines to access regular services. No documentation is required. A photo ID is helpful, but not required.

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What is available for holiday meals?2023-08-14T11:09:08-07:00

Pre-packed boxes of food for preparing a holiday meal are distributed before Thanksgiving.

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What is the birthday bag program?2023-08-14T11:09:16-07:00

Parents with children age 12 and under may request a Birthday Bag to support a family celebration (in their birthday month) when they pick up groceries at the Food Bank.

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What kind of food is available?2023-08-14T09:43:08-07:00

Non-perishable canned and dry goods, frozen protein, fresh produce, bread and pastries, dairy, and deli when available.  We also have baby food and formula and pet food.

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What kind of work is available?2023-08-14T11:05:10-07:00

As a volunteer-based organization there are numerous and varied tasks for individuals of all ages and abilities, including sorters, baggers, drivers, administrative, garden workers, gleaning, farm stand and a whole lot more.

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Where and when can I get food?2023-08-20T00:02:26-07:00

We have two Food Pantries — one in Olympia and one in Lacey. We also distribute food to 18 Satellite locations that are operated in partnership with community organizations throughout the county, and 15 locations through our Mobile Program.

Click to view a map of all locations and distribution schedules and a calendar of services at our Food Pantries.

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Who can volunteer?2023-08-14T11:05:45-07:00

Individuals, families, and groups of all sizes who want to make a difference in their community and support our mission are welcomed as volunteers.

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Why is some food past the “sell by” date?2023-08-19T12:07:25-07:00

All the food donated by the community is date checked. USDA states that canned goods do not expire, but our standard is to provide food no more than 3 years past the “sell by” date.

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