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, USDA makes commodity foods available to State Distributing Agencies. The amount of food each State receives out of the total amount of food provided is based on the number of unemployed persons and the number of people with incomes below the poverty level. States provide the food to local agencies they have selected. TDA provides TEFAP foods to 19 community action agencies which distribute foods directly to needy households, and 5 food banks which distribute foods to local organizations, such as soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. These local organizations distribute the TEFAP foods to eligible recipients for household consumption, or use them to prepare and serve meals in a congregate setting. Recipients of food for home use must meet income eligibility criteria set by TDA.
Under TEFAP, States also receive administrative funds to support the storage and distribution of the USDA foods. TDA passes most of these funds down to local agencies.