By Mya Price, Manager, Commodity & Federal Nutrition Programs, Feeding America Behind the ability of Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs to help support families without enough to eat is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – a key federal food program that moves huge quantities of food from farmers to food banks to families in need. Learn more about the importance of the program, and why it has a place in the heart of many across our network.
(1) TEFAP is the cornerstone of the food supply for the Feeding America network. Without TEFAP, our network would not have the volume of food needed to help families in need have enough to eat – especially as the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn dramatically drive up rates of hunger in communities everywhere. In fact, last year, TEFAP provided nearly 30 percent of the food distributed through our food bank network and local hunger-relief agencies. (2) TEFAP has helped Feeding America keep pace with the rising need for food assistance amid a pandemic and economic downturn. In 2020, our network delivered a record-breaking number of meals as the number of households without enough food dollars in their pockets skyrocketed. This would not have been possible without support from TEFAP. Last year, our food banks distributed 1.7 billion meals from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases of TEFAP foods, providing much-needed food support during these unimaginable times. (3) TEFAP offers diverse food staples that form the basis of a healthy, nutritious diet. Most of our network distributes TEFAP foods, which are some of the most nourishing, enriching foods that our network receives and that the people we serve take home. TEFAP offers more than 120 foods, ranging from high-quality fruits and vegetables to meat and poultry to eggs and dairy products. (4) TEFAP provides a win-win for families in need and our nation’s farmers, growers, and producers. TEFAP foods are secured when the USDA purchases U.S.-grown foods. Those foods are then distributed through the charitable food sector to families far and wide. This partnership between farmers, USDA, and food banks helps to support our agricultural economy while also ensuring individuals struggling to put food on the table don’t go to bed hungry. TEFAP foods are especially vital for individuals in hard to reach areas, such as rural communities, and for populations that experience disproportionate rates of hunger, including African American and Hispanic communities.