Everything You Need to Know about the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

(TargetDailyNews.com) – When it comes to the next meal, no person or family should have doubts or wonder when they will eat again. Food insecurity is a severe issue that compromises the physical and mental health of many. However, in an effort to better support nutrition, food insecurity is being addressed by a variety of private and government organizations. One government program that was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

What is The Emergency Food Assistance Program?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program helps provide supplementary food to improve the diets of low-income households. The program purchases nutritious USDA Foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and other staples from producers and growers in the U.S. These foods are to be made available to state agencies for distribution.

The number of employed individuals and people with incomes below the poverty level within the state determines the amount of food that they will receive. The state then distributes the food in different ways. They may distribute to local agencies, food banks, or community action agencies that serve people in need. The organizations may then distribute the food directly to low-income households or serve the public directly through food pantries or soup kitchens. In addition to food for distribution, states also receive administrative funds through TEFAP to support storage and other needs. The administrative funds must be partially passed on to local agencies as well.

Who is Eligible for TEFAP?

This emergency food assistance program is available at no cost, provided recipients meet eligibility requirements. Although it is a federal program, it is run by individual state governments, so the eligibility may vary from state to state. The primary eligibility is income level, which is determined at the state level. Some states will automatically qualify individuals or households if they participate in other federal, state, or local income-based health, welfare, or food programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or other programs.

Additionally, food assistance may be available from local organizations for those that receive food from a food pantry or similar program to take home and prepare if they eat a meal within a group setting at a soup kitchen or similar organization. These may not require income-level eligibility because these types of organizations have already proven to serve primarily low-income individuals.

What Foods Are Available Through TEFAP?

Although market availability can affect the foods available through TEFAP, the USDA provides a wide range of foods across all food groups, which may include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy – such as milk and cheese
  • Whole-grain and enriched-grain products like rice, cereal, and pasta
  • Oils
  • Eggs
  • Protein – fish, poultry, meat, legumes, etc.
  • Beverages – apple juice, orange juice, grape juice

While some foods may be fresh or frozen, many of the items available are bottled, canned, or dried. Shelf-stable foods that do not require refrigeration allow for longer shelf life.

Fighting Food Insecurity with TEFAP Assistance

No individual should go hungry, so it is essential to take advantage of the nutrition assistance programs that are available when it is needed. As the programs are run by states, interested individuals should contact their state distribution agency. These agencies can discuss eligibility requirements, share local contacts and distribution centers, and potentially point low-income households to other resources that may help their situation.

Copyright 2023, TargetDailyNews.com