USDA to Support Food Banks, Soup Kitchens, Food Pantries through TEFAP

USDA intends to purchase up to 126.4-million dollars worth of fruit and vegetable products for distribution to needy families under The Emergency Food Assistance Program. The products to be purchased include tart cherries, processed apples, cranberries, fresh tomatoes, wild blueberries and raisins. The purchase will expand efforts to provide high-quality, wholesome, domestically-produced foods to support low-income families in need of emergency food assistance. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says food distribution programs are a vital part of the nation's nutrition safety net. He says these food purchases will give communities additional means to help those in need. Vilsack notes a comprehensive farm bill is absolutely critical to these efforts - and calls on Congress to adequately support feeding programs for American families by passing new legislation as soon as possible.

Foods distributed through TEFAP are purchased with funds appropriated specifically for the program or procured through USDA's market support programs. The foods are provided to states for distribution to local agencies - such as food banks - who distribute the food to organizations like food pantries and soup kitchens that provide communal meals or distribute foods directly to low-income families. The purchase announced Monday is part of the surplus removal program - which allows USDA to purchase foods in order to help stabilize prices in agricultural commodity markets by balancing supply and demand while providing healthy food to those in need.

In Fiscal Year 2013 - Congress appropriated 311.34-million dollars for TEFAP. In addition to these funds - TEFAP receives surplus foods purchased through USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service to support American agricultural markets. In FY 2013 - 366.3-million pounds of food was purchased for TEFAP through the Congressional appropriation and another 270.8-million pounds of food through AMS surplus removal efforts. Surplus food purchases for TEFAP in FY 2013 totaled 228.51-million dollars.

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