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Learn More About TEFAP: The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a program of the USDA which provides American-grown foods to states to be distributed to low-income Americans.  While TEFAP food is free to qualifying households, it is also free to food banks and their Partner Agencies.  Second Harvest distributes TEFAP food to roughly 100 Partner Agencies across our 46-county service area.

Hillcrest United Methodist Church Community Food Bank, located in South Nashville, partners with Second Harvest to distribute TEFAP products at their bi-weekly food distributions. Their pantry representative, Deborah, noted that their outreach has doubled since COVID-19.

“So, so many have lost jobs and are barely making ends meet,” she said. “We are one of the few resources available in a diverse section of South Nashville and we welcome ALL. Our food bank is run 100% by volunteers and we were one of the first to implement a drive-thru box distribution for our clients. Our main mission is to provide a healthy harvest for the community, and we are able to do this with the help of Second Harvest and TEFAP.” 

Partner Agencies that distribute TEFAP food must operate as either a food pantry or soup kitchen. Current TEFAP products include milk, frozen chicken and pork, canned fruits and vegetables and fresh produce, such as apples, oranges, potatoes, and plums. Participating Partner Agencies order TEFAP food through the “USDA” category on AgencyLink, with no cost for the food. For agencies requesting delivery, the weight of TEFAP foods will be included in the delivery fee. 

In order to participate in the TEFAP program, agencies must follow guidelines required by the USDA. Guidelines include storing USDA food separately, following Civil Rights requirements, and completing monthly reporting. 

In order to receive TEFAP food at a food pantry, clients must self-declare their income or show participation in a means-tested program (SNAP, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Families First, Supplemental Security Income, or documented residence in public housing). All soup kitchen clients are automatically eligible when they participate in a congregate meal. 

If you are interested in learning more about the TEFAP program or in becoming a TEFAP Partner Agency, contact your Agency Relations Manager or Kate Pearce at 615-329-3491.

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