USDA Domestic Food Programs Reviewed by Subcommittee

Apr 3, 2001

USDA Domestic Food Programs Reviewed by Subcommittee
Congress must work to ensure the effectiveness of programs like TEFAP

(April 3, 2001)

Representatives from USDA and the food distribution organizations were on hand today to help explain how USDA domestic food programs operate and to examine their effectiveness. The Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry focused on the ability of these programs to meet the needs of the individuals they were designed to assist.

Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) explained "Food banks often meet the needs of their communities by managing donations from the government and the private sector. Most government donations are the product of the Emergency Food assistance Program (TEFAP). It is a unique program that has the ability to provide nutritious domestic agriculture products to needy Americans while at the same time providing support to the agriculture community." Goodlatte continued, "It is important for this Congress to continue to ensure the effectiveness of our domestic food distribution programs -- programs like TEFAP."

Testifying before the Subcommittee, Congressman Tony P. Hall, (D-OH) explained that TEFAP is a "win-win program" as it is designed to provide commodities that would otherwise be wasted to feed needy individuals and families.

TEFAP is a nutrition program, but it is also an important agricultural program as well. Since its beginning, TEFAP has been an important means of making surplus commodities available to America's needy rather than keeping them in storage. States receive federal grants to assist in meeting the storage, distribution, and transportation expenses associated with the receipt of the commodities.

The Chairman intends to introduce legislation that would allow the Secretary to spend specific amounts of unused Employment and Training funds on TEFAP commodity purchases. The bill would redistribute up to $40 million dollars to TEFAP in unused Food Stamp Employment and Training funds aimed at those able bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) whose eligibility for the Food Stamp Program was restricted by a work requirement in the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. Recent reports, including a GAO report titled Food Stamp Program: Implementation of the Employment and Training Program for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents have indicated that the funds dedicated to this are for food. At the same time, food banks are reporting an increase in demand.