The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a Federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost. Under TEFAP, commodity foods are made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to States. The States, in turn, provide the food to local agencies that they have selected for distribution to the needy. These agencies may include: (1) food banks; (2) food pantries; (3) soup kitchens; and (4) other public or private, non-profit organizations that distribute the food to the needy through "mass household distributions" (MHD).
- Food Banks - Provide food to other organizations like food pantries, soup kitchens, hunger relief centers, or other food or feeding centers. Usually, food banks do not issue food directly to individuals.
- Food Pantries - Distribute food to low-income and unemployed households for home consumption.
- Soup Kitchens - Provide meals to the needy and the homeless on a regular basis.
- Mass Household Distribution Organizations - Distribute a specified number of USDA commodities to low-income and unemployed households, per month, to take home.
To be eligible to take commodities home, households must (1) participate in another government program such as Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Medicaid, or reside in public housing; or (2) meet established income requirements. ("Income" means gross income before any deductions and includes, but is not limited to: wages, salaries, Social Security, public assistance or welfare payments, unemployment compensation, pensions, etc.) There is no means test for participation in a soup kitchen as it is presumed that anyone seeking a meal is needy.
To find the location of a food pantry or soup kitchen near you, you may contact the local food bank(s) in your area for information. In addition, the Departmentís Food Recovery Resource Guide provides a list of outlets arranged by county. You may obtain a copy from the Bureau or you can access the information on the web at https://florida-agriculture.com/food/reclist.htm .
Food Recovery Resource Guide
The Emergency Food Assistance Program Contract
The Emergency Food Assistance Program Manual
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
Program Fact Sheets (TEFAP)
Facts About USDA Commodities for the TEFAP Program