Understanding nutrition, budgeting, and how to feed a family every week can be challenging for anyone. When you have to deal with a list of acronyms, it can also be quite frustrating.
Share the Table participates in the TEFAP program, distributing food to recipients one Saturday each month as a drive-through distribution. What does that mean?
TEFAP is The Emergency Food Assistance Program. It was implemented in 1981 as the Temporary Food Assistance Program, with the goal of reducing an inventory of surplus food through distribution to low-income households. Some of those foods held in surplus were depleted by 1988, so the Hunger Prevention Act authorized funds to be appropriated for the purchase of USDA foods specifically for the TEFAP program, which got its official name in 1990.
The program is designed to be a Supplemental Nutrition Program, to supplement the food needs of low-income households. It is not intended to be a household’s primary food source. The food available through the TEFAP program:
- Varies depending upon US agricultural market
- Must be nutritious
- Must have an extended shelf-life (for most food)
- Should be available in sufficient quantities for nationwide distribution
- Should be provided in package sizes that are suitable for household use.
Individuals and households who are currently receiving NC Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) and individuals and households whose income is at or below the NC Department of Health & Human Services income poverty guidelines based upon household size and income are eligible for the TEFAP program.
SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the largest federal nutrition assistance program. SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card that can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.
SNAP benefits are determined in June for the following fiscal year, which starts in October. Some adjustments have been made recently due to the struggles many families are facing during the pandemic. However, with the recent rising food costs, those benefits do not go as far in providing for individuals and families facing food insecurity.
Typically, the maximum benefit amounts are updated based on the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which is essentially the cost calculated for groceries needed to provide a healthy, budget-conscious diet for a family of four. Let’s look at a typical example of those benefits for a family of four with a net monthly income of $1,106.
The expectation is that the family will spend 30% of their income on food, so that number is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size. The calculations for their SNAP benefits follow this formula:
- $1,106 net monthly income x 0.3 = 331.80 (rounded up to $332)
- Subtract 30% of net income from the maximum allotment for the household size, which is $835 for a 4-person household
- $835 – $332 (30% of net income) = $503, the SNAP allotment for a full month for that family of 4.
When you divide that $503 by 4 people for the month and then calculate that it is intended to cover 3 meals a day for a typical 30-day month, that results in an allotment of $4.19 per person per meal for that month.
Share the Table provides those TEFAP food items once a month and offers the opportunity for families and individuals to shop for grocery items once a week to help those who need to supplement their ability to purchase groceries, even with assistance they may be receiving through the SNAP program. We are here to help our neighbors in need, because we know that food insecurity is pervasive and can impact anyone in any situation.