Learn  /  Issue Areas

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

TEFAP is the cornerstone of the charitable food system and helps ensure the Feeding America network of 200 food banks has enough food to provide to our neighbors in need.

What’s at Stake?

Through TEFAP, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases nutritious food from U.S. growers and producers. States partner with Feeding America network members to connect the purchased food with our neighbors in need. During this pandemic and beyond, TEFAP will be vital to ensuring our network has enough food to support families and individuals facing hunger. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, our network is relying on TEFAP foods to meet the growing demand for food. In 2020, Congress provided an additional $11.5 billion to help purchase more TEFAP foods due to COVID-19. However, in the next year, we anticipate that food support from USDA will dramatically decline by 30-40 percent. More funding will be needed to support people in need until the economy recovers and ensure food banks have the food to meet this moment.

What’s Feeding America Doing?

See our United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods priorities

Fast Facts 

  • In 2020, TEFAP provided more than 39 percent of the food distributed by the Feeding America network, translating to over 2.4 billion meals.
  • Our network is the largest TEFAP participant, with 193 of our 200 food banks receiving and distributing TEFAP foods. Feeding America food banks receive TEFAP foods through their individual states and then distribute the food directly to local organizations, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. 
  • States and the Feeding America food bank network place food orders with USDA, who then works with the food industry to fulfill the orders. Each state is required to determine how TEFAP foods are distributed, and they oversee the agencies that distribute the food.

Our Experts

Carrie Calvert

Vice President, Agriculture and Nutrition Government Relations

Mike Glymph

Senior Legislative Manager

Mya Price

Manager, Commodity and Federal Nutrition Programs