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The Emergency Food Assistance 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. USDA provides 100% American-grown USDA Foods and administrative funds to states to operate TEFAP. States provide the food to local agencies that they have selected, usually food banks, which in turn distribute the food to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public.


Participant Eligibility Requirements

You may be able to get food assistance from a local TEFAP organization in your area in two ways:

  1. Getting foods from a place like a food pantry to take home or,
  2. Eating a meal with a group of people at a place like a soup kitchen

Whether or not you are eligible to receive TEFAP foods to take home depends on your household income level. The income level depends on the state you live in because the state decides the income standards for TEFAP. In some states, you may be eligible for TEFAP if you already participate in other federal, state, or local food, health, or welfare programs which are based on income. For meals that local organizations prepare and serve in a group setting, you do not have to meet a certain income level because these organizations have already shown that they serve mostly low-income people.

How to Apply

Contact your state distributing agency for further assistance.


The following links provide more information about the USDA Foods you may receive through TEFAP, including product information sheets and recipes for using these foods.