USDA Awards Grants to Improve Reach and Resiliency of Emergency Food System
Washington, D.C., June 6, 2022 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service today awarded over $39 million in grants to 38 state agencies to improve the Emergency Food Assistance Program, commonly known as TEFAP, reach into remote, rural, tribal, and/or low-income areas that are underserved by the program.
TEFAP is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, USDA purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA foods—nutritious, domestically sourced and produced foods—and makes those foods available to state agencies. States provide the food to local emergency food providers that they have selected, usually food banks, which in turn distribute the food to local organizations, such as soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. These local organizations then distribute the USDA foods to eligible recipients for household consumption or use them to prepare and serve meals in a congregate setting.
“USDA is committed to building back better with a food system that works for all those in need, especially communities that are systemically plagued with nutrition insecurity,” said Cindy Long, administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service. “These grants are a step in the right direction towards better serving people in remote, rural, tribal and low-income areas with the Emergency Food Assistance Program, providing critical nutrition for those who need it.”
States receiving TEFAP Reach and Resiliency grants will use funds to implement unique and creative solutions to address potential gaps in TEFAP coverage, and to make critical investments in food distribution infrastructure in underserved areas. Through the grants, USDA is empowering state agencies to better serve those in need of emergency food assistance, especially in communities facing barriers to access. Grant funding was provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, as part of USDA’s Build Back Better initiative.
Awardees and grant amounts can be found on the FNS webpage. This is the first of two rounds of the TEFAP Reach and Resiliency grants, which combined, will provide up to $100 million in TEFAP investments.
The TEFAP Reach and Resiliency grants are happening concurrently with an initiative by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which is establishing the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program. The LFPA, which also supports the nation’s emergency food system, is part of the Build Back Better initiative, authorized by the American Rescue Plan. The purpose of this program is to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency; it will award up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through the purchase of domestic local foods.
Both the TEFAP Reach and Resiliency grants and the LFPA efforts are part of a larger strategy to support the emergency food system. In total, USDA expects to invest approximately $2 billion in the nation’s emergency food system in fiscal year 2022 with a goal of maintaining similar levels of support as in fiscal year 2021. This is in addition to resources from other federal agencies, such as the Department of the Treasury’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, which some states are using to help procure a continuous food supply for food banks and other emergency food providers.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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