The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in Food/Nutrition
December 19, 2018


The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA Foods and makes them available to state distributing agencies. The amount of food each state receives is based on the number of unemployed persons and people with incomes below the poverty level residing in the state. States then provide the food to local agencies, including Indian Tribal Organizations and food banks, which in turn distribute the food to local organizations, such as soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. States also provide the food to other types of local organizations, such as community action agencies, which distribute the foods directly to low-income households.


The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is administered by U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

Program Requirements:

Public or private nonprofit organizations that provide nutrition assistance to low-income Americans, either by distributing food for home use or preparing meals to be served in a congregate setting, may receive food through TEFAP. They must also meet the following criteria:

  • Organizations that distribute food for home use must determine household eligibility by applying income standards set by the state.
  • Organizations that provide prepared meals must demonstrate that they serve predominately low-income persons.


Households that meet state eligibility criteria may receive TEFAP food for home use. States set income standards, which may, at the state's discretion, be met through participation in other Federal, state, or local food, health, or welfare programs for which eligibility is based on income. States can adjust eligibility criteria to ensure that assistance is provided only to those households most in need.

Recipients of prepared meals are considered to be low-income and are not subject to a means test.


Application Details

Contact your State Distributing Agency for more information about TEFAP.

Explore More Benefits

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Insurance
Architectural Barriers Act Enforcement
Early Doctoral Student Research Grants
Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA)
Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
Capital Construction Fund Program
Medicaid Program
State Children's Health Insurance Program
Armed Forces Tax Benefits

Welfare Info