How The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) Can Feed Your Family
(AscendHealthy.com) – Eating a healthy diet on a small budget can be surprisingly tricky. Fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality meats, and essential proteins can be expensive and difficult to find in many low-income areas. The federal government is trying to fill this gap with an emergency food aid program known as TEFAP. The program provides low-income residents with fresh, nutritious, and free meals.
Who is Eligible to Receive the TEFAP Package?
Since this is a federal program, anyone who needs a food parcel must prove their eligibility based on their household income. The state determines eligibility, so the eligibility amount will vary by state and household size. Those interested in applying can find information about the requirements of their state on the USDA’s website.
Generally, families eligible for other food assistance programs, such as SNAP and free or reduced school meals are also eligible for TEFAP assistance.
Programs that serve prepared foods to locals need to demonstrate that they primarily serve low-income families to receive TEFAP support. Participants in these meal programs do not require proof of income to receive meals.
How TEFAP works
The USDA purchases the food for TEFAP from US producers. They then distribute food to states based on the unemployment rate and the number of people living below the state’s poverty line. The state then passes the food to local institutions supporting low-income food programs, such as food pantries and community kitchens offering free meals.
Congress approves an annual budget to support the purchase of TEFAP and another program designed to assist producers by purchasing additional products. Once these purchases are made, they will be handed over to TEFAP for further distribution to state and local agencies.
The government also provides government agencies with funding for these programs’ transportation, storage, administration, and advertising.
In addition to the food pantry, the state provides TEFAP food to other local agencies that donate food to low-income families through monthly drive-through food assistance and backpack programs. These foods are distributed to needy families on a monthly basis.
What Foods are Included in the TEFAP Package?
USDA distributes various food products through TEFAP, depending on the state’s needs and the food available at the time of the year.
The best part of the TEFAP program is that the packages also include fresh foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, chicken, eggs, fish, and dairy products such as milk and cheese. These products are usually difficult to afford to buy at your local market. Additionally, TEFAP packages typically contain canned, frozen, or dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, rice, cereals, pasta, whole grains, fortified cereal products, and other non-perishable foods. The best part of the TEFAP program is that the packages also include fresh foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, chicken, eggs, fish, and dairy products such as milk and cheese. These products are usually difficult to afford to buy at your local market.
TEFAP contains over 120 nutritious, high-quality products that help low-income Americans improve their diet. TEFAP also provides simple recipes that eligible recipients can use to cook the foods that are included in the package.
Other Food Aid Programs
Other programs managed by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services Department that may be eligible for low-income residents include:
• Commodity Supplements Food Program (CSFP): This program provides supplemental food to low-income people over 60.
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program provides a monthly allowance to eligible recipients on EBT cards that can be used to purchase food.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP): This program offers free or discounted lunch and breakfast to students
• Indian Reservation Food Distribution Program (FCPIR): This program is designed to support Native Americans who are struggling to afford fresh, nutritious food.
• Special Dietary Supplement Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): This program helps support pregnant women, newborns, and babies.
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