The Emergency Food Assistance Program
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA Foods, and makes those foods available to state distributing agencies.
The amount of food each state receives out of the total amount of food provided is based on the number of unemployed persons and the number of people with incomes below the poverty level in the state. States provide the food to local agencies that they have selected, usually food banks, which in turn distribute the food to local organizations, such as soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public.
States also provide the food to other types of local organizations, such as community action agencies, which distribute the foods directly to low-income households. These local organizations distribute USDA Foods to eligible recipients for household consumption or use them to prepare and serve meals in a congregate setting. Under TEFAP, states also receive administrative funds to support the storage and distribution of USDA Foods.
These funds must, in part, be passed down to local agencies. TEFAP is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the USDA.