What Can You Do When You’re Broke and Need Groceries?

Financial crises can hit us at any time, leaving us unable to afford decent meals or essential household items. Perhaps this month has brought about an influx of bills, unexpected expenses, or a savings goal that needs to be met. While these may seem unavoidable, the need to eat and stock up on household supplies is undeniable. So, if shopping for groceries seems like an unattainable luxury at the moment, here are some steps you can take to get the help you need.

1. Explore Food Banks

If you haven’t already considered food banks, now is the time to do so. These organizations not only provide food but also offer other household supplies. Feeding America, for instance, has over 200 food banks across all 50 states. They even have grocery programs such as mobile pantries, where you can get free groceries. You can easily find these organizations online and use their websites to locate food banks near you.

There are numerous other food banks across America that offer assistance to those in need. While some of them may not have websites, you can easily find them on social media pages.

It’s important to note that getting help from food banks sometimes requires meeting certain eligibility criteria. Many food banks require a referral from a social worker, the police, or a medical professional. You can also seek advice from a trustworthy provider to guide you in the right direction.

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2. Take Advantage of Free School Meals

If you receive certain benefits, you may be able to get free school meals for your children. This can significantly reduce your grocery expenses in the long run. However, the eligibility requirements can vary from state to state and depend on the benefits you receive.

In schools that receive state funding, students in grades one or two may be eligible for free meals. Some states even provide free lunches to students in grades one to five. Even if your children don’t fall into these categories, they may still qualify for free school meals based on specific requirements.

If your child receives qualifying benefits without interference, they may also become eligible for free school meals. Additionally, student loan forgiveness programs can help write off their loans.

3. Discover Free Food Apps like Olio

Did you know that there are apps where you can get free food? One such app is Olio. By downloading and using this app, you can easily find and claim free food available in your neighborhood. Businesses and kind-hearted individuals offer meals to those in need. The best part is that you don’t need to meet any specific qualifications or provide personal details. Just ensure that your notifications are turned on if you want to get dibs on the food before anyone else. Once you claim the food, receiving it is a breeze.

Facebook groups also give away food and household supplies in a similar fashion, without charging a penny. Keep an eye out for these groups and their generous offerings.

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4. Explore Affordable Grocery Options

There are places where you can get groceries at a lower cost than most supermarkets. While they may not be entirely free, they can significantly reduce your expenses and enable you to put a decent meal on the table.

  • Mid America Foods: This program offers discounted groceries to families in need. No referrals or bookings are required, as they encourage all families to participate. Visit their website to check the guide for your neighborhood, which provides information on where and when you can access this offer.

  • Community Fridges: These fridges provide surplus food donated by organizations in your area. There are hundreds of community fridges across the country, and they usually offer food for free. Use the internet to find the community fridge nearest to you and note its opening hours.

  • Community Groceries: If you have a few extra dollars, worry not about the unavailability of groceries. By becoming a member of a community grocery store, you can access free meals three times a week. Additionally, you’ll receive free life skills classes and tips on cultivating healthy cooking habits. Find a community grocery store near your house and inquire about their offers.

  • Pantries: Similar to community groceries, pantries can provide quality household supplies for just a few dollars. No referral is needed; simply locate a local pantry and avail yourself of their services.

5. Seek Food Samples and Coupons

Several companies in the United States offer samples of new household supplies to people free of charge. This can be a viable option when you’re low on groceries and funds. Additionally, if you come across free coupons, you can use them to buy meals at restaurants. Browse online for available coupons and have them delivered to you.

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What Else Can You Do?

Aside from the aforementioned options, there are a few additional steps you can take:

  • Request a cash advance: If you’re currently employed, consider asking your boss for a cash advance to help cover your basic needs.

  • Sell unused items: Look around your home for items you no longer need or use. You can sell them and earn a few dollars to put toward your groceries.

  • Ask for help from friends or family: Though it may feel uncomfortable, reaching out to loved ones and explaining your situation can lead to unexpected assistance. Contact a few people, inform them of your circumstances, and see if they can lend you some cash or provide groceries.


During times of urgent bills and unforeseen financial crises, online lending services like MoneyZap offer loans of up to $1,000. If borrowing to pay for groceries seems like the right choice for you, you can receive loan approval within 24 hours and enjoy a flexible repayment plan. Remember, there are options available to ensure that you and your loved ones can have access to the food and supplies you need, even when money is tight.

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