Community Food Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 3,600 community food services in the US collect, prepare, and deliver food for the needy. They include food banks, meal delivery programs, and soup kitchens. Food banks collect and distribute salvageable or donated food to individuals through other social service organizations. Meal delivery programs prepare and deliver meals to persons unable to prepare meals for themselves due to age, disability or illness. Soup kitchens prepare and serve meals at fixed or mobile locations.

Demand and Donations Dependent on Economic Conditions

Demand for community food services rises when the economy is weak and unemployment rises.

Dependence on Volunteers

Community food services are highly dependent on volunteers for many staff positions and for carrying out their work.

Industry size & Structure

The average community food service operates 1 or 2 locations, has 11-12 employees, and generates $3-4 million in annual revenue.

    • There are about 3,600 community food service organizations in the US employing 42,900 workers and generating $20.9 billion in annual revenue.
    • Nearly all community food services focus on the needs of a local market. However, they may belong to regional or national networks of food banks.
    • The largest national food bank network is Feeding America, with over 200 members.
    • In addition to dedicated community food service organizations, the US also has tens of thousands of food pantries operated by churches and other religious organizations to deliver food staples to the needy.
    • An estimated 10.2% of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2021, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
                                  Industry Forecast
                                  Community Food Services Industry Growth
                                  Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                  Recent Developments

                                  May 19, 2024 - Personal Income Increase may Reduce Demand
                                  • Personal income, an indicator of demand for community food services, increased slightly during the first quarter of 2024, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Demand for community food services is likely to decrease as personal income increases. Community food service industry employment and wages for nonsupervisory employees increased slightly during the first quarter of 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
                                  • Stock market gains, growth in personal income, and higher net worth are expected to result in a 4.2% increase in charitable giving in 2024 and another 3.9% increase in 2025, according to the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The projected increase is greater than the average growth rate of giving since 2005, and is expected to surpass 10-year, 25-year, and 40-year annualized growth averages. The average rate of growth for giving from 2005 to 2014 — a period covering the 2007-08 financial crisis and subsequent recession — was 1%. The average growth rate from 2015 to 2024 is expected to have been 1.9%.
                                  • The formal US volunteering rate (volunteer activities within an organizational context) dropped seven percentage points—from 30% in 2019 to 23% in 2021, according to AmeriCorps. It was the largest change since AmeriCorps and the US Census began collecting this data in 2002. Utah; Wyoming; Minnesota; Maine; and Washington, DC had the highest formal volunteering rates in 2021. Community food services that rely heavily on volunteers are likely to be negatively impacted.
                                  • More low-income Americans are now required to work in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Able-bodied adults from 18 to 50 years old who don't have kids must show proof they are working at least 80 hours a month or enrolled in an education or training program to receive SNAP. That age requirement will increase to 52 years old on October 1. Homeless people, veterans, and adults 18 to 24 years old who aged out of foster care are exempt from the new requirements. About 750,000 adults could lose their benefits, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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