Help People Put Nutritious Food on Their Tables
By becoming partners with USDA, congregations and neighborhood organizations can connect people in their communities with programs that put food on the table. Let's work together to give peace of mind to the families, children, and individuals who make up the group of nearly 50 million Americans - including 16 million children - who are at risk of going hungry in America. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps put healthy food in reach for low-income households. Accepted by most grocery stores and at some farmers markets, monthly benefits are provided on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, much like a debit card. USDA administers SNAP at the federal level through the Food and Nutrition Service. State agencies run the program at state and local levels, including determination of eligibility, amount to be received, and distribution of benefits. Community-based organizations can play a vital role in telling people who may be eligible about the program and providing application assistance. To get involved in outreach, the first step is to contact the agency that administers the program in your state. SNAP is the national program name, but some states may use a different name.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five. Each month, those who qualify receive vouchers or an EBT card to purchase WIC-approved foods. Contact your state agency to learn more about how the program works where you live.
Under The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), USDA foods are made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to states. 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. The amount of food received by each state depends on its population of low-income and unemployed individuals.
It is recommended that groups interested in starting food pantries connect with an existing food bank to learn about community resources and food availability. Each food bank in the network provides food to social service organizations and congregations who in turn distribute it to those in need. Food banks also work with community partners, like your organization, to reach people with food and to connect them with federal nutrition assistance programs.