What is the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a Federal program that assists in supplementing the diets of low-income Americans, including the elderly, by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance. It provides food and administrative funds to States so that they can supplement the diets of these groups at no cost to the recipients. 

Through this program the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA foods, making sure they are 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 State poverty level.

States provide the food to local agencies in which they distribute the food to local organizations (ie. soup kitchens or food pantries) that serve the public directly, States also provide food to other types of local organizations like community action agencies, who then distribute the food to the home of low-income families.

All the food is given to eligible recipients for household consumption or to prepare and serve meals in a congregate type setting. 

Who is Eligible to get the Food?

  1. Public or private nonprofit organizations that provide nutrition assistance to low-income Americans are able to receive food as local agencies. They must also be organizations that distribute the food for home use by determining household eligibility by applying income standards set by the State or provide prepared meals by demonstrating that they predominately serve them to low-income persons. 
  2. Households that meet State criteria may also receive food for home use. There are income standards set by the State, that must be met through their participation in other Federal, State, or local food, health, or welfare programs that also base themselves on income requirements. 

Click HERE for more information on TEFAP's eligibility requirements.

What Foods Are Available Through TEFAP?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided a fact USDA Foods Fact Sheet with all the necessary information on which foods are covered under the TEFAP, FDPIR, and CSFP. To view, click here

They generally include 90 nutritious, high-quality products that became available in 2016 including; canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and dried eggs, meat, poultry, fish, milk and cheese, pasta, and cereal. 

Are There Any Other Food and Nutrition Assistance Available to TEFAP Recipients?

TEFAP households may be eligible for other FNS programs, including:

History of TEFAP

TEFAP was first authorized in 1981 with the plan to distribute foods purchased by USDA in order to support agriculture markets on household usage levels. It was designed to help reduce the Federal food inventory while assisting low-income persons simultaneously. Since 1988, Federal food inventories has decreased immensely. Due to that, the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988 then authorized funds dedicated to the TEFAP specifically. 

Who Can I Contact For More Information On TEFAP?

You can contact your corresponding State Distributing Agency for more information. A list of State contacts may be found on the Food Distribution website at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/contacts/sdacontacts.htm.