How can I start a non-profit food bank in my neighborhood?
I live in a mixed-income area that has no major supermarket. The population in this area is mainly made up of African-American families with children, some Hispanic families with children, and a moderate elderly population. The nearest supermarket is a few miles across town, and since some of the residents in this areas rely on public transportation, it's harder for them to get to the store. I want to open a food bank where the residents can obtain free food on a weekly basis. This will also help residents who don't qualify for food stamps, who lost their benefits, and those who live on a fixed income. Also, can I start this as a home-based operation?
Yes, you can start it as a home-based operation as long as you comply with local and state regulations--or the rules for your particular area. Non-profit status is something else you will need to research with a competent attorney or CPA as there are federal rules and regulations that govern non-profit status.
That said, you could also look to create a for-profit business, in which you add a small fee to the overall total for your delivery service. You can use your fee or whatever profit you make to buy additional food or create more routes for your customers, and you may be able to partner with a delivery operation that is currently servicing routes and create a joint venture with that company to deliver food.
You could also look to partner with a current non-profit and offer delivery services, and work out a fee schedule where some patrons pay and some of the more needy don't.
Bottom-line? You have a lot of options, just make certain you follow the legal standards for either a non-profit or for-profit operation, as well as any food handling statutes you may need to follow.