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The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federally funded program that assists with supplementing the diets of low-income Americans, including the elderly, by providing them with emergency nutrition assistance at not cost.  

Under TEFAP, commodity foods are made available by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia provides  these foods to local agencies, such as food banks, which in turn distribute the food to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. The distribution of TEFAP food occurs in various ways:

  • Food Pantries distribute food packages containing both TEFAP foods and privately donated foods to eligible individuals who have demonstrated emergency food needs. Organizations that distribute food for home use, must determine the household eligibility by applying the income standards set by the USDA each year. Households must re-apply for benefits each year once the income eligibility guidelines are published.
  • Soup Kitchens and homeless shelters use TEFAP food in the preparation of hot and cold meals which are served to needy individuals. Organizations that provide prepared meals must demonstrate that they serve predominately needy individuals in order to be eligible to receive commodities.  Recipients of prepared meals are considered to be needy and are not subject to a means test.

To be eligible to distribute TEFAP commodities, an organization must be a public or private non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is the distributing organization, contracted by the District of Columbia,  to operate the TEFAP program and distribute commodities to agencies that operate feeding and nutrition programs for eligible DC residents. For information on being a recipient agency or locations serving the District of Columbia contact the Capital Area Food Bank on (202) 526-5344.  

OSSE WNS School Programs administers the TEFAP Program for the District of Columbia.

If you would like further information or to speak with someone about the TEFAP program, please contact the OSSE WNS office at (202) 727-1839.

Information can also be found on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) website.

Service Contact: 
Wellness and Nutrition
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
(202) 727-1839
Contact TTY: 
711
Contact Suite #: 
4th Floor