5 Options for Families Who Can't Afford Food

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • Many American families struggle financially, so putting enough food on the table can be an extra challenge.
  • Resources like SNAP, WIC, and mobile food pantries can help make it more affordable to feed your family.

There's help out there.

For many Americans, times are extra tough right now. Everyday living costs are rising, and when there's only so much money coming in, it can be challenging to afford enough food for your family. Following a budget will only get you so far during a difficult time. The good news is there are resources that can help you put food on the table. Below, we'll highlight a few resources that you may want to consider if you need help buying groceries.

1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

If your family meets the income eligibility requirements, you may want to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) Through this government-run program, you can access monthly funds, which can be used to purchase food for your family.

Program participants can use their EBT card to purchase eligible food and drink items at grocery stores and other participating retailers. There are also quite a few little-known perks of SNAP that offer additional value to the program. SNAP could help you fill up your grocery cart without going into debt.

2. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is another program that could help you feed your family.

Our Picks for the Best High-Yield Savings Accounts of 2024

Rate info Circle with letter I in it. 4.25% annual percentage yield as of July 20, 2024
Min. to earn
Min. to earn
Min. to earn

The program is available to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. Since eligibility requirements vary by state, it's best to look into your state's program to see if your family is eligible.

You can use WIC benefits to purchase eligible food and drink items at participating stores. Additionally, program participants can use the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and other eligible food items at participating farmers markets. Participants can also get nutrition counseling and access other educational resources.

3. Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a valuable resource for older adults and those with limited mobility. This program delivers free, nutritious meals directly to homes and senior community centers. Volunteers drop off prepared meals and also do a quick wellness check. Eligibility requirements vary by state, so look into your state's program to see if you qualify for this service.

4. USDA National Hunger Hotline

Another valuable resource for families struggling with food insecurity is the USDA National Hunger Hotline. This program can help you locate food assistance resources, like food banks and meal sites in your community.

You can call 1-866-3-HUNGRY to speak with a representative. This service is available daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m ET. An automated text service is also available. By texting 914-342-7744, you can receive an automated response with local food and social services resources.

5. Mobile food pantries

Food pantries are another useful resource for families who struggle to afford food -- but since they're not always in convenient locations, they're not accessible to everyone. For this reason, mobile food pantries can be an excellent resource for families with limited access to transportation.

Mobile pantries bring free groceries to your community. These pantries typically operate at churches, schools, community centers, and other easily accessible community locations. Feeding America has an online tool that makes it easy to search by ZIP code to find mobile food pantries in your area.

You don't have to do it all alone

If your current personal finance situation is stressful, please know you're not alone. Many Americans are struggling to fill up their fridge. Resources like the ones mentioned above can make a difference during difficult times. If you need help, don't feel embarrassed. These resources exist for a reason and can help you further stretch the money in your bank account.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow