Hunger persists across America as families face a perfect storm of a pandemic, supply chain issues, rising food costs, and the cold winter months. The number of people in our country facing hunger could likely grow in the coming months if Congress does not do more. No one should have to choose between keeping the heat on and putting food on the table. However, without additional federal support for families, there is no way the Feeding America network of food banks can fill the gap.
There were tens of millions of people in America facing hunger before the pandemic and that is still true today. 38 million people in the United States, including nearly 12 million children do not always know where they will get their next meal.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal nutrition program that helps emergency food organizations like Feeding America food banks, collectively the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., deliver nutritious foods from farmers to food banks to communities every day. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that 1 in 3 people who live in households at risk of hunger earn too much money to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal nutrition programs. Many of these people turn to food banks for support. Programs like TEFAP are vital for food banks to help these families.
Last year, the Feeding America network of over 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries, and meal programs helped provide 6.6 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need. USDA foods provided through TEFAP are the cornerstone of the food supply for the Feeding America network, providing approximately 39 percent of the food we distribute. Unfortunately, Feeding America is projecting an estimated decline of over 1 billion meals from USDA foods.
TEFAP delivers for families in every community across the nation. That’s why every member of Congress should support strong additional investments in TEFAP food purchases to help ensure food banks can meet the need in their communities. Feeding America is asking members of Congress to invest an additional $900 million in TEFAP food purchases to help our food bank network meet the continued need that exists in our communities. Increased TEFAP funding will help allow struggling families to succeed and thrive.