New coalition to promote TEFAP in farm bill |

New coalition to promote TEFAP in farm bill

Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of food banks, on Monday announced the launch of Farmers Feed America, a coalition with farm groups that will promote funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a food distribution program.
“The farm bill should strengthen TEFAP to help food banks keep up with the rising need for food assistance and food costs,” Farmers Feed America said in the announcement. TEFAP is a key provider of foodstuffs to food banks.
The statement continued, “TEFAP serves multiple vital functions. The program provides a key market for domestic producers, a relief valve for farmers during times of oversupply, and free emergency food assistance for individuals and families with low incomes. Each year, TEFAP provides critically needed food assistance to millions of people.”
The formation of the coalition is a reminder that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps, is not the only nutrition program funded in the farm bill.
“The Feeding America network of food banks is grateful for the vital contribution of agriculture in the movement to end hunger,” said Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot. “Food banks across the nation rely on a vast system of producers, growers, farmers and farm workers to supply fresh, nutritious food to people facing hunger. By supporting programs and policies that move healthy food from farms to families facing hunger, Congress can strengthen U.S. agriculture and help ensure families have the food they need to thrive.”
Feeding America noted, “During the pandemic, farmers, food companies and retailers came together with food banks to connect families facing hunger to nutritious food in innovative new ways. Bolstered by federal support, many initiatives, programs and a collective effort across the country, people experiencing food insecurity were able to access 6.6 billion meals from the Feeding America food bank network in fiscal year 2021 and 5.2 billion meals in fiscal year 2022.
The total the Agriculture Department spent on TEFAP in fiscal year 2022, including administrative funds, was more than $1 billion.
“This year’s farm bill reauthorization process is an opportunity to reflect on the innovations that worked during the pandemic and apply those learnings to future food and nutrition policy. The farm bill is the nation’s centerpiece federal legislation for food and farming, and it is only reauthorized about once every five years. This legislation has historically created pathways for farmers to take the nutritious food they grow and provide it to individuals and families facing hunger.”
During the pandemic, the Trump administration started a food box program that was popular with food banks, food bank beneficiaries and Republicans, but not with Democrats who preferred to increase funding for SNAP. The Trump administration also provided fresh milk and fruits and vegetables that were rarities at food banks before that time.The members of the coalition are:
▪ American Farm Bureau Federation
▪ Consumer Brands Association
▪ Feeding America
▪ FMI – The Food Industry Association
▪ International Dairy Foods Association
▪ National Milk Producers Federation
▪ National Pork Producers Council
▪ North American Blueberry Council
▪ U.S. Sweet Potato Council
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