Arizona The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) Application Information

The Emergency Food Assistance Program or TEFAP is a federal program that gives emergency food and nutrition aid to eligible participants at no cost. Managed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), its aim is to improve the diets of needy individuals by making foods available to state agencies.

TEFAP benefits can be received by low-income individuals, families, senior citizens, and homeless people through various organizations such as pantries and food banks that allocate food for household use, or soup kitchens that give prepared meals.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides benefits by giving commodities to state agencies that distribute them to eligible people. The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases the goods (this includes the processing, as well as the packaging), and then sends it to the different states where the details of how the food would be managed and distributed are worked out. The amount each receives may vary as it depends on the number of unemployed and low-income individuals in a state. Funds are also given to maintain storage and distribution of the foods.

This is how the program works: The food is provided by the USDA and distributes it to each state. It is then given to selected local agencies (such as food banks), and distributed to local organizations, like food pantries, community action agencies, and soup kitchens that serve the public directly. The foods may be given for household consumption or the agencies may prepare the goods to serve it as meals in a group or dining room setting.

The state agency in charge of administering TEFAP in Arizona is the Coordinated Hunger Relief Program. It supervises the overall distribution of commodities.

Food is given in many different ways including food boxes, home meals, dining rooms, and the like. You may visit any TEFAP location near you. You can find the Emergency Food locations, including the contact details, operating hours, and the services provided by clicking here.

The following are the various services provided under The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

  • Emergency Box: A supply of emergency food for needy individuals or families for three to five days.
  • Soup Kitchen or Dining Room: Prepared meals are given on location.
  • Food Cooperative Box: Food packages are given that cost between $15 and $35. The food's retail value costs around $40-$70.
  • Mobile Pantry: Food boxes are delivered and distributed to community locations.
  • Home Meals: Meals are delivered to physically disabled individuals or the elderly who are confined to their homes.
  • TEFAP Box: A supply of USDA emergency food for three to five days for individuals or families who are in need.
  • Snack/Meal Program: Meals or after-school snacks for needy children.

The foods available through TEFAP may vary, depending on the market conditions and the preferences of states. In 2012, about 80 products are available including, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rice, grits, cereal
  • Meat, poultry, fish
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruits
  • Milk
  • Pasta products
  • Dried egg mix
  • Dried beans
  • Fruit juice
  • Soups

You can view the complete list of all the foods in 20102 under TEFAP by clicking here.

Click here to view a list where you will find links to fact sheets of all the available USDA goods including the description, storage and packaging information, nutrition facts, and suggested recipes.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA, reasonable adjustments must be made to let persons with disabilities join the service, activity, or program. If you think you'll have difficulty in taking part in an activity or program under TEFAP due to your disability, it is important to let the agencies or organizations know beforehand, if possible, so accommodations can be made.

If you feel you have been discriminated based on your color, race, sex, national origin, religion, age, political beliefs, or disability, you have a right to file a discrimination complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by calling 1-800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TTY) or writing to:

USDA Director, Office of Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue,
S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

Eligibility Requirements

Beneficiaries of prepared meals in dining room settings are automatically regarded as needy; as a result, they are not subject to an income test.

For the household distribution program, if you want to receive food for household consumption, you must declare that you meet the income eligibility of 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and that you reside in the area of the agency.

Click here to view a table that shows the 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, effective from July 1, 2012 up to June 30, 2013.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program Application Instructions

Eligibility in The Emergency Food Assistance Program is self-declared, that's why you do not have any formal application that you need to complete. When visiting any one of the TEFAP locations, you will be asked to give your identification (this can be anything that has your name and address on it) and sign-in. Here's a sample of the sign-in sheet used.

Homeless individuals may receive meals without income eligibility if the food is prepared and served in a dining room or congregate setting; on the other hand, they must meet the requirements for income eligibility to be able to get food that are not prepared meals served on location.