Throughout the school year, River Bend Food Bank partners with schools and nonprofit afterschool programs to give kids at risk of hunger food to take home for the weekend. Each week, partner sites receive individually packed grocery bags – around 3,000 of them – that contain at least 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners that a child can prepare without adult supervision. To respect the privacy and dignity of each child, school or program staff discretely place a bag of food in the child’s backpack each Friday.

This food sustains them until they get another hot meal at school on Monday morning. For some, the backpack food provides their only food between school meals.

If you would like your organization to be part of the Backpack Program, please contact Belinda Mielenhausen, Director of Programs.


Our Mobile Food Pantries are held an average of nine times per month and travel throughout our service area where the need is greatest. Each Mobile Food Pantry distribution provides about 10,000 meals and feeds hundreds of individuals. All the food is passed out in about two hours in a farmer’s market style of distribution.

For more information, contact our Director of Programs: Belinda Mielenhausen, 563-345-6490 ext. 209

For times and locations of mobile food pantries, please call 563-345-6490 option 1


In coordination with local schools and volunteers, River Bend Food Bank operates more than 50 school food pantries, safe places within a local high-need school where its students and their families can receive food items when they pick up their child or attend a school function. School administrators select qualified families. The program’s goal is to offset food insecurity for children at a critical point in their development and stabilize their families by making it convenient to pick up food.

Studies have shown that food insecurity amongst school-age children leads to behavioral issues, more health problems, and lower academic achievement. Also, developmental impairments are more common in children who deal with food insecurity.


Sadly, seniors have become a fast-growing population of chronically hungry people in eastern Iowa and western Illinois and often will not reach out for help. According to the latest hunger studies through AginginPlace.org, 1 in 6 older adults (65 years or older) faces the threat of hunger.

The Senior Hunger Initiative prepares boxes with fresh produce for delivery to seniors in low-income, elderly housing complexes. Vans deliver the boxes filled with items such as cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, and oranges. Food Bank or community volunteers unload the food and help the residents get the boxes to their apartments.


Food pantries at senior communities that do not receive deliveries provide a larger assortment of food that offered through the Senior Hunger Initiative. Volunteers (often seniors who live at the pantry site) come to the Food Bank to pick up food and then stock, organize, and distribute the food to their eligible neighbors. While seniors could take the bus to a nearby pantry, age and disabilities mean that many cannot ride the bus or easily transport a large amount of food.

Having the food pantry in their community makes it more convenient for them to stock up on needed food items. River Bend Food Bank partners with 11 senior living facilities to provide food pantries to older adults in our service area.

SNAP Food Assistance

SNAP gives people struggling with low household income extra help buying food such as fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. SNAP is funded by the federal government and distributed by individual states. River Bend Food Bank partners with the Iowa Food Bank Association to offer a SNAP assistance hotline for residents in Iowa.

In Illinois, our in-house SNAP Outreach Coordinator can discuss eligibility, help an individual fill out an application for assistance, and answer questions related to SNAP benefits. The SNAP Outreach Coordinator visits partner agency sites periodically to promote SNAP and help people determine if they might qualify to apply for benefits.

River Bend Food Bank can help determine if you are eligible to receive SNAP if you live in our service area in Illinois or Iowa.

Get Help Applying for SNAP


The Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost. This program significantly increases the amount and variety of food that food pantries and soup kitchens provide to people in need. As the region’s sole nonprofit program distributer, River Bend Food Bank provides USDA-supplied food to sites in 18 Illinois and 5 Iowa counties.

Participation in the program is available to food pantries that have regular hours, have food available on an emergency basis, and have privately donated food available in addition to USDA commodities. Soup kitchens must serve prepared meals to homeless, transient, or other needy people. Eligibility guidelines for pantry use is 185% of the poverty level. Self-declaration is the method for establishing eligibility for USDA food at food pantries. People who receive prepared meals at soup kitchens are considered to be in need and do not have to prove their monthly income.

To inquire about your agency’s eligibility and participation in our USDA programs, please contact Becky Gruhl, Director of Agency Partnerships at 563-345-6490, ext. 217.


Student Hunger Drive 2021: Support Your School AND End Hunger!

The Student Hunger Drive is a six-week, friendly competition between area high schools that meets a significant community need – hunger. Students collect items in a variety of ways, from going door-to-door in the community to holding special events to raising money that they then use to purchase food.  Students also package the collected food and deliver it to River Bend Food Bank’s warehouse.

In addition to collecting food for those in need, the Drive gives students the opportunity to develop organizational and life skills as they work together to accomplish a common goal. The Drive has instilled philanthropy and volunteerism in a generation of high school students for over thirty years.

For more information regarding the Student Hunger Drive, please contact Rachel Grewe, Programs Coordinator, at rgrewe@riverbendfoodbank.org or 563-345-6490 ext. 215.



River Bend Food Bank relies on the generosity of its supporters to help fight hunger in eastern lowa and western Illinois. Each year, over 22 million meals are missed in our service area. Your financial support is essential to bridging the meal gap in our community.



Volunteers are crucial to the operation of River Bend Food Bank. Without volunteers, it would not be possible to collect, sort, and distribute all the food that comes through our warehouse every day. Together we're feeding people today and ending hunger tomorrow.



If you or a loved one is experiencing hunger, please let us help you. Find a food pantry or meal site near you with our interactive map.