The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a means-tested federal program that provides food commodities at no cost to Americans in need of short-term hunger relief through food providers like emergency food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
USDA makes commodity foods available to States for distribution to low-income people through emergency food providers. USDA also provides States with funding to assist with a small amount the storage and distribution costs for TEFAP commodities. The amount of food and funds a State receives is based on a formula which takes into account state poverty and unemployment rates.
Food banks combine TEFAP commodities and storage and distribution funding with private donations of food and funds, infrastructure, and manpower to leverage the program far beyond its budgeted amount. In this way, TEFAP and the emergency food system exemplify an optimum model of public-private partnership.