The Emergency Food Assistance Program
Revive Alaska Community Services is partnered with the Food Bank of Alaska to administer the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, also known as TEFAP.
What is TEFAP?
TEFAP is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program administered by states. It has deep ties to the agricultural industry and has been available since 1981. TEFAP provides commodity food to families and individuals in need and has become an integral part of anti-hunger efforts.
Background and History
TEFAP was originally created as the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, the result of hunger advocates lobbying the federal government for use of surplus commodities purchased by USDA for price supports. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order providing states with a onetime distribution of surplus cheese. This action succeeded with a win-win situation for the government, which reduced storage costs, and for those in need, who received food surplus.
Distributions continued for several years, and grew to include a variety of foods purchased for price support purposes. Because TEFAP was primarily an agricultural program, some foods were packaged in bulk commercial sizes not necessarily intended for individual or family consumption. States received food allotments derived from a formula based on the number of people in poverty in the state.
There was a significant change to TEFAP in the late 1980’s. A new agriculture bill cut the price support program, which supplied the source of commodity foods. However, TEFAP was seen as a benefit to farmers as well as an anti-poverty program and it was popular with legislators. Therefore, instead of eliminating the program congress modified it through the 1988 Hunger Prevention Act. The act directed USDA to purchase foods for TEFAP.
In 1990, TEFAP became a permanent federal program and the “T” in the program name was changed from “Temporary” to “The” to reflect this change. TEFAP continues to be favorably regarded for the support it provides to farmers and producers, as well as for the nutritious food supply it provides to low-income families.