Hunger is a growing issue in the US and across the world, and with inflation rates constantly on the rise, many lower-income American families have found themselves unable to consistently put food on the table.
Rural communities are much more impacted by this, and the people living there are much more likely to experience hunger due to less access to food paired with faulty healthcare infrastructure and a much higher rate of chronic diseases.
Because of this, rural communities make up 63% of all counties yet 87% of the counties experiencing hunger are rural.
Thankfully, the federal government has several answers to this, one of which is The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which is focused on providing those in need with nutritional meals and many other things that they may require to lead a healthy and stable life.
What is TEFAP
Unlike other federal programs like SNAP, which provide assistance directly to those in need in the form of food stamps, TEFAP instead offers its services to organizations like Feeding America, which then disperse these resources evenly to everyone who needs them.
With the help of TEFAP, Feeding America can ensure that food banks across the country receive a sufficient amount of nutritious foods directly from farmers and other food production facilities all across the US.
Data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that every third American that is at risk of hunger actually earn too much to qualify for SNAP benefits, which is exactly why they turn to food banks to get the help they need.
Without TEFAP, these banks wouldn’t be able to provide the food necessary to keep these people full, amounting to an unprecedented disaster of national proportions, one that can easily be avoided at that.
Last year alone, the government contributed 1.2 billion pounds of food to the banks of rural America, and of all the reserves that were distributed to those in need, 465 million pounds came directly from TEFAP.
This means that almost half of all the food distributed to hungry Americans came from a single government program and that only goes to show how dedicated and effective the program has been so far.
However, despite all this help, there was still not enough food to ensure every American goes to sleep on a full stomach, and TEFAP will require much more support from Congress if we wish to resolve this issue.
With this increased funding, programs like TEFAP and SNAP will become much more effective when it comes to dealing with hunger in the US, and we may finally put an end to child hunger in the US, once and for all.
Why is it so effective?
The foods that TEFAP provides to food banks across the nation are crucial when it comes to solving hunger in the US, and the program easily contributes over 20% of all the food that is distributed to communities.
On top of this, they provide more than 120 different types of nutritious food, ranging from fruits and vegetables to dairy and meat products, which is something few assistance programs can boast, as they’re fairly limited compared to what TEFAP has to offer.
Finally, the program has had a significant amount of impact on the farm economy in the US, as they’ve made over $400 million in food purchases last year, allowing farmers to grow and expand their businesses, leading to increased accessibility of said food in rural communities where it’s usually scarce.
The Farm Bill
Funding for these food purchases TEFAP makes is provided through the farm bill, which was designed to strengthen the program in a way that would allow banks to have reliable access to food as demand increases.
Because of this, lawmakers are expected to expand TEFAP’s funding to at least $500 million every year, which would ensure a steady flow of food into the food banks that feed hungry American households and communities.
On top of this, an additional $200 million in funding for food storage and distribution will offset the immense cost of transporting USDA-funded food across the country, which is far more noticeable in rural areas.
These expenses are expected to cover refrigeration and fuel costs as well as an additional $15 million for infrastructure that TEFAP may require to function properly.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to deny that hunger is much more present in this day and age than it should be, and with little reason to seeing as how far we’ve advanced with food production technology.
Nutritious food should be accessible to all Americans, not just those living in urban areas, and it’s exactly what TEFAP is trying to accomplish, albeit with limited funding.
Just a small nudge would help boost the program’s effectiveness by a margin, solving the ever-growing issue of hunger in rural and low-income communities across the US.