How to Get Free Groceries

Come to the Pantry

How to Get Free Groceries—Come to the Pantry!

What kind of food will I get?

Loaves & Fishes is happy to provide food two times each month. Each time someone visits Loaves & Fishes, they will receive a grocery cart (about 100 pounds) of fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, pastries, and dessert, milk, eggs, frozen meat, and a variety of canned and dried fruits, canned vegetables, and other shelf-stable foods like oil, cereal, pasta, and rice.

Loaves & Fishes offers both United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-provided food AND donated food from local groceries, churches, and other local organizations. Loaves & Fishes gives out food through the USDA’s Emergency Food Access Program (TEFAP), which allows people whose household income is 185% or less Federal Poverty Level to pick up food at Loaves & Fishes twice a month.

If an entire household receives TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or SNAP (Food Stamps, or a one-person household receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, then they are automatically eligible to receive USDA food at Loaves & Fishes.

Generous donations of fresh produce, garden produce, bakery items, and frozen meats from local grocers supplement USDA food.

Loaves & Fishes customizes food for our visitors’ tastes, culture, household size, and health conditions (i.e., diabetes, high cholesterol, dental health, heart disease), including halal meat and fish, spices, plant-based proteins and “dairy,” and gluten-free products. Staff dietitians are on-site to speak with pantry visitors and provide the food they receive based on their preferences and ability to use it. Everyone visiting the pantry, regardless of where they live and how much money they make, receives food.

Donated Food

Loaves & Fishes collects food donations from Wegmans, Costco, Giant on Pantops, Kroger at Rio Hill Shopping Center and Kroger on Hydraulic Rd., Food Lion on Fifth Street and Food Lion Mill Creek, Aldi, and Sam’s Club. What and how much each store donates varies from day to day but typically includes fresh produce, bread, pastries, frozen meats, and shelf-stable foods such as snacks and crackers, soup, and canned vegetables.

You may find items in your cart that are past date. These are still safe to eat.

Food Dates: Manufacturers put dates on food to indicate when food is the best quality.
Except for infant formula, dates are NOT an indicator of food safety. According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), many foods can be consumed past their expiration dates unless you see signs that the food has spoiled.

Best if used by/before”: Indicates when a product is the best quality or flavor. It is not a purchase or safety date.

Sell by”: Tells grocery stores when to remove the product from shelves. It is not a safety date. You can still store and consume the food in your own home after this date for several days to several weeks, depending on the item.

Use by”: This is the last date that guarantees the best quality of a product. It is not a safety date except for infant formula.

Freeze by”: Indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

If you’re still not sure whether a product or item is worth saving past its date label, the USDA’s free Food Keeper app can help.

Get FREE Groceries!

No Appointment Needed


Wednesdays: 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Thursdays: 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Saturdays: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Grocery pickup is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please bring your own bags for loose groceries.

Loaves & Fishes does not own or have permission for our visitors to park in any neighboring parking lots.

Please arrive no more than 1 hour before we open the pantry.

Schedule an Appointment


Tuesdays: 4:00 to 7:00 PM*
*Make a Tuesday Appointment

You can schedule an appointment online for an upcoming Tuesday:
Wednesday 12:00 AM through Monday 11:59 PM.

Please bring your own bags for loose groceries.

Staff members and registered dietitians Monica Davis and Samantha Van Dyke help sort and select the best foods when assembling groceries for our guests. They provide recipes and tips on storing and preparing the food we provide.

How to Get to the Pantry

Pantry Location

2050 Lambs Road
Charlottesville, VA 22901

From Hydraulic Road, turn onto Lambs Road between Albemarle High School and Connect Church. Loaves & Fishes is on your right across from the entrance to Journey Middle School and Greer Elementary School.


MicroCAT is an on-demand public rideshare service.
All rides are fare-free.

6:30 am to 9 pm

Curb-to-curb demand-response service in the counties of Buckingham, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson, and rural Albemarle. Jaunt also provides ADA paratransit service in the City of Charlottesville and urban Albemarle.

Anyone can ride Jaunt to get groceries at Loaves & Fishes during our pre-scheduled Tuesday appointments and two-hour distribution windows Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. We will come to the bus as soon as it arrives and you will have your food and be on your way home in 15 minutes.

The #5 bus on CAT stops at the intersection of Georgetown and Hydraulic Roads.

Walk past Albemarle High School and turn left onto Lambs Road at the light at Connect Church. Loaves & Fishes is the next property on the right past the church, across from the entrance to Journey Middle School and Greer Elementary School.

It is a 1/2 mile walk from the bus stop to the Loaves & Fishes Pantry

Other Ways to Get Here

Pickup Guidelines

When we open our gates one hour before we give out food, park where directed, and please STAY IN YOUR CAR.
When it is your turn, we will show you where to move your car.
We bring groceries for you to load in your car. If there’s something in your cart that your family won’t eat, leave it in the cart; we can give it to someone else!

Parking and Facility Rules:

  • Loaves & Fishes does not own or have permission for our visitors to park in any neighboring parking lots.
  • Do not arrive more than 1 hour before food distribution begins (see food pickup times under “Get FREE Groceries” above).
  • Follow instructions given by Loaves & Fishes’ staff and volunteers.
  • For safety reasons, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE while waiting to pick up groceries. You MUST control children in your care and keep them in your vehicle.
  • Please refrain from smoking during the registration process.
  • Please keep your car music levels low.
  • Unruly and disruptive behavior is strictly prohibited on the property.
  • No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the property. Anyone who appears to be intoxicated may be refused service.
  • No weapons are allowed on Loaves & Fishes’ property.
  • No profanity, verbal harassment, or loud, unruly voices are allowed.

Check in from your car

A volunteer or staff member will come to your car window and ask for the birthdate and name of an adult in the household. We have at least one Spanish-speaking registration staff or volunteer at every distribution and someone who speaks Dari/Pashto and Arabic at our Wednesday and Thursday distributions.

New to the pantry? If this is your first visit, we will give you a form to collect:

  1. Names and birth dates of everyone in your household
  2. Address and phone number
  3. Total monthly household income

No printer? We have printed registration forms in Arabic, Dari, Farsi, French, Hindi, Kurdish, Pashto, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese. You can also download the forms below.

Loaves & Fishes does not share any information about people who receive food at the pantry other than reporting ages monthly to the USDA.

L&F aerial view

Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry reserves the right to ask anyone who does not follow our rules to leave the Pantry. Individuals who repeatedly violate these rules may be permanently banned from coming to Loaves & Fishes.

Volunteer at car

Download Link2Feed Client Intake Forms

Unable to Get to Loaves & Fishes? Name a “Proxy.”

If you need food but cannot get to Loaves & Fishes, you can authorize someone else to pick up and bring food to you. We are unable to give food to anyone not authorized by you to pick up your food.

Call (434) 996-7868 or send a completed and signed intake form (forms above) by email to or with the person picking up for you with the name and phone number of the "alternate" who will be picking up for you.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Loaves & Fishes offers food from the US Department of Agriculture's Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Anyone whose total household income is 185% or less of the Federal Poverty Level can receive TEFAP food from Loaves & Fishes and other food pantries.

Any household receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid is eligible to receive TEFAP food at Loaves & Fishes.


Senior Food Box Program:
Senior Food Boxes contain food obtained from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) that is then packed by volunteers at the Food Bank, along with nutrition education and recipe cards. This is the USDA’s only program that specifically targets low-income seniors and is open to individuals aged 60 and over with incomes at or below the current 130% federal poverty guidelines.

Each month, qualified area seniors at least 60 years of age visiting Loaves & Fishes receive a 300-pound box of shelf-stable foods, such as milk, juice, cereal, rice or pasta, peanut butter, dry beans, canned meat, poultry, or fish, canned fruits and vegetables, and a two-pound block of cheese, in addition to the fresh and shelf-stable food we give all households.


Loaves & Fishes does not share any information regarding our clients with anyone other than what we are required to report annually to the USDA.

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the responsible Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint Form and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992.

Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

  1. Mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
  2. Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
  3. Email:

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you.

Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry
2050 Lambs Road
Charlottesville, VA 22901


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