Many people find it challenging to pay for food. Despite the fact that food is essential for survival, a lot of people cannot afford to pay for groceries. It is even more of a challenge with bigger households. However, the federal government is fully aware of this problem and offers programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to help people out.
TEFAP: The Emergency Food Assistance Program
TEFAP is an assistance program that provides food support to those who need it. This federal option helps individuals to supplement their diets. It is meant to help only those who are eligible like Americans with restricted income or senior citizens. These Americans can receive emergency food assistance without spending a penny.
No, that was not a typo. It is completely free of charge. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers USDA foods and funding for administrative purposes to state governments that manage this program. State distributing agencies are responsible for receiving these resources. The great thing about this program is that the USDA food for the program is of high quality and contains a lot of nutrition.
It is important to keep in mind that the amount of assistance varies based on the state, depending on the number of unemployed individuals and other eligible people that are in the state. States that get assistance from TEFAP offer food to agencies in the area. This would include local food banks and Indian Tribal Organizations. These agencies supply these resources to local organizations such as soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and so on. Local organizations are responsible for serving those who need food and nutrition. Additionally, community action agencies can also receive these resources to distribute them to eligible families.
The Benefits of TEFAP
Participating states can receive money and food from TEFAP. These states offer up these resources to individuals who need support. For instance, the federal government offers food to a local food bank. The local food bank also works with an emergency shelter that distributes food to those staying in the shelter.
When local agencies get these resources, people in the community can gain a lot because they can receive free food from these agencies. Furthermore, that means that you can gain a lot from TEFAP if your local agency offers the food they get from this program. In that case, you should look for local food agencies that could support people like you in your community to get food support.
Other Food Support Options to Consider
Other than TEFAP, there are other federal food support options that can help individuals afford groceries. These programs include:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- School Breakfast Program (SBP)
- Special Milk Program (SMP)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP, or food stamps, is a common program that helps Americans across the United States. This program offers food assistance with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The program transfers money into the EBT card each month. Recipients can use these cards at stores that allow this form of payment to go towards groceries. On the other hand, it should be noted that not all products are eligible to buy with an EBT card. You are only able to purchase groceries such as:
- Meat, Poultry, and Fish
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Dairy products
- Bread and Cereal
- Snack foods
- Drinks that are non-alcoholic
- Seeds and/or plants that create food for the family to consume
On the other hand, recipients cannot use SNAP funds for ineligible items like:
- Drinks that have alcohol such as beer, wine, liquor
- Products that have tobacco like cigarettes
- Vitamins, Medications, and Supplements
- Animals that are alive, with the exception of shellfish, fish out of water, and animals that were already slaughtered before they reached stores
- Items that are not food
The Amount of Benefits You Can Receive from SNAP
Remember that each state has its own version of SNAP. Furthermore, this means that the eligibility requirements are different. On the other hand, if you qualify, how much you get is based on aspects such as your level of income, household size, and so on. The USDA offers a chart that explains the maximum benefit amount per month that recipients could receive from this program. You should know that the information below applies for Oct. 1, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2024, and there are exceptions:
- 1 Person: Maximum Amount is $291 per month
- 2 People: Maximum Amount is $535 per month
- 3 People: Maximum Amount is $766 per month
- 4 People: Maximum Amount is $973 per month
- 5 People: Maximum Amount is $1,155 per month
- 6 People: Maximum Amount is $1,386 per month
- 7 People: Maximum Amount is $1,532 per month
- 8 People: Maximum Amount is $1,751 per month
- Each Extra Person After 8 People: $219 per month
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
There is no denying that some people need more help than others, which is why the government created the WIC program. This program supports households through federal grants that are given to state governments. States can use these grants for supplemental nutrition support, referrals to health care providers, and education on nutrition for eligible women who are pregnant, women who are postpartum, and children (from infants to up to 5 years old) that face nutritional risk.
Receiving Benefits From the WIC Program
If you are interested in applying for this program, there is general eligibility requirements that you need to meet, such as:
- Level of Income
- Categorical Requirements
- Level of Risk when it comes to Nutrition
- Residential Locations
This might be a program that the federal government offers, but states are responsible for managing the program. You should get in touch with your local or state WIC agency. They will provide information on the application and answer all of your questions.
This project is temporary, which means that those who receive benefits can only have it for one or more certification periods. The amount of time that a recipient receives benefits is called a certification period. On the other hand, each state has its own version of the program, which means you should check with your area about its certification period. Additionally, you should know that there could be a waitlist the program will put you on before you get benefits. People who are put on the waitlist can anticipate that those who need more assistance are prioritized above those who are less in need.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
This food assistance program helps public and nonprofit schools, along with residential childcare institutions. With the NSLP, eligible kids receive discounted or free nutritious lunches for every day they go to school. Every year, millions of children can gain from this program. When kids get their lunch from their school for free or at a discount, the money their families save can significantly help! The NSLP was established in 1946 when President Truman signed the National School Lunch Act.
School Breakfast Program (SBP)
Public schools, non-profit private schools, and residential child care facilities manage this program in participating states. The best part is that these facilities can get compensation for the food they offer through not for profit breakfast programs. This program is a combined effort between the federal government and states. The Food and Nutrition Service offers SBP federally and state education facilities offer the SBP on a state and local level. This program was established permanently in 1975, supporting millions of children across the United States.
Special Milk Program (SMP)
Milk is one of the most important components for children to grow up healthy. This is because of the calcium that helps children build strong bones. The Special Milk Program can support schools that do not participate in any federal program that offers meals to children. On the other hand, even schools that take part in federal programs such as the NSL or SBP can join the program. That is only when they offer milk to kids in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. However, these kids must not be able to receive other school meal programs to get milk from SMP.
Other Federal Programs That Offer Support
Other than options that offer food support, there are also federal assistance options that help out people in other aspects of their lives. These opportunities could help people with housing, medical debt, and so on. When individuals receive more help in certain aspects of their lives, they might manage their other situations better. For instance, if someone does not spend so much money on housing, then that money can go towards paying off medical debt. Other federal programs that can offer support include:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Public Housing
- Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Bottom Line
TEFAP is a type of assistance program that supports local agencies to offer food to people who need it. This option does not offer direct benefits to people, unlike SNAP, the WIC program, and so on. These are also types of federal food assistance options to consider, along with other federal programs that can help you out. Make sure to look through your options when you are looking for help. Furthermore, the applications for all of these programs are free of charge and if you want to know more, you can contact your state agency for more information. Do not worry: help is out there. Just make sure you know where to look!