The Essential Guide to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

What is TEFAP?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost. The program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, offers food and administrative funds to States to provide this vital aid.

How Does TEFAP Work?

The USDA purchases nutritious, high-quality food, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, grains, and more, and distributes it to State Distributing Agencies. These agencies, in turn, pass the food on to local agencies, such as food banks, which distribute the food to public or private nonprofit organizations, including food pantries and soup kitchens. Individuals and families can access the food through these organizations.

Who is Eligible for TEFAP?

TEFAP is intended to assist low-income individuals and families. Eligibility criteria can vary by state and sometimes by the local area, based on the percentage of low-income residents. However, in general, if you participate in other federal, state, or local food assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you are likely eligible for TEFAP.

For precise eligibility requirements in your area, you should contact your State Distributing Agency.

How to Apply for TEFAP

To apply for TEFAP, you'll typically need to visit a local agency like a food pantry or soup kitchen. Some states may require an application, while others may simply need you to declare that you meet the income eligibility guidelines.

Remember, applying for TEFAP doesn't limit your ability to apply for or receive assistance from other food assistance programs.


The global pandemic has significantly increased food insecurity across the nation, leading to expanded TEFAP distributions. The USDA has been working diligently to respond to the increased need, ensuring that more families have access to nutritious meals during these trying times.


In sum, TEFAP is a critical resource for individuals and families struggling with food insecurity. If you need help, don't hesitate to reach out to your local agencies to learn more about TEFAP and how you can access this much-needed assistance.

Here are some additional tips for applying for TEFAP:

  • Be prepared to provide proof of income and residency.
  • If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask the staff at the local agency.
  • Be patient. The application process can take some time.

If you are approved for TEFAP, you will be able to receive a variety of nutritious foods, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Grains

These foods can help you and your family stay healthy and well-nourished.

Let us know if this article helps or if there other areas in your life you need help with here

Category: Food

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