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Learn About Other Food Assistance Programs
Food assistance programs are essential for some families’ food budgets to succeed. The United States government funds several food assistance programs, one of which, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), reached 38 million recipients in 2019. However, there are many other food assistance programs that could help you better balance your budget.
Programs offer help to the elderly, veterans and women and children. Each program takes into account your age, financial needs, medical requirements and familial circumstances to provide financial coverage and meet your living needs. Each program’s rewards and requirements often vary by location but may apply to U.S. territories and even non-citizens. Learn more about easing your financial burdens with federal grants subsidized through support programs.
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Learn About Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Benefits
The WIC Program looks to provide nutritious foods, inform at-risk communities of healthy habits and refer participants to healthcare professionals. WIC specifically seeks to assist low-income women and their children. The program serves:
- Pregnant women.
- Breastfeeding women.
- Non-breastfeeding postpartum women.
- Children up to five years of age.
You can find information on these resources at many of your local healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, public housing centers and some schools. Eligibility can vary by location, though many participants will receive health screenings, access to other welfare programs and education and counseling on nutrition. WIC operates in all 50 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and several U.S. territories.
Find Out About the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP is a government program that supplements low-income Americans diets with free emergency food assistance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases nourishing, high-quality foods, which are given to State Distributing Agencies through TEFAP.
States transfer the foods to local food banks and other distributors to administer the resources to organizations. These often include soup kitchens, community action agencies and food pantries that directly interact with the public beneficiaries.
The amount of food the state receives is dependent on the state figures of unemployment and poverty level. Foods include fresh and packaged fruits, vegetables and legumes. TEFAP also accommodates dietary restrictions, like Kosher and Halal, at no extra cost.
Learn About Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)
This disaster relief program offers food assistance to low-income residents suffering from a range of natural disaster effects. As disaster survivors have unique needs, D-SNAP functions as a separate entity from SNAP. Regardless of your SNAP eligibility, you could qualify for D-SNAP benefits if you experienced a disaster-related expense, such as:
- Home or business repairs and protection.
- Short-term housing expenses.
- Evacuation expenses.
- Personal injury due to a disaster.
- Loss of income or financial abilities due to a disaster.
- Food loss due to flooding or power outages manifested by a disaster.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service must approve state governments to enact D-SNAP and a presidential declaration must issue Individual Assistance for those affected.
When you are approved for D-SNAP benefits, you will be issued an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that allows you to purchase foods just like you would with a debit card. To apply, check state websites and local news stations after the disaster, as D-SNAP does not become available until a crisis has occurred.
What is the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)?
Signed into law in 1946 by President Harry Truman, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) feeds millions of school children every year. It is a federally run meal assistance program that operates in public and nonprofit private schools as well as some childcare institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost daily lunches to school children.
Any child who is part of an NSLP-qualified school can receive the program’s services, regardless of the student’s household income. Recipients will receive free or reduced lunches, though free lunches are only available for low-income students with household incomes that are at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level.
Information About the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) aims to provide nourishing UDSA foods to elderly (at least 60 years of age) low-income citizens. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, CSFP contributes partial meals packed with nutrients. In 2017, nearly 630,000 beneficiaries received CSFP products.
The CSFP recently underwent changes and now employs new policies. Before February of 2014, children were able to receive assistance.
Now, new recipients cannot apply for their children, though pre-signed children may still receive benefits until they are ineligible. If you’d like to receive benefits for your children, there are new associations that offer updated benefits.
Learn About Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
As an FDPIR participant, Native American citizens can receive monthly packages of USDA Foods. Those living on Native reservations can apply for FDPIR if they are considered low-income residents.
Some Native Americans who live close to or are connected to their reservations may also qualify. Under FDPIR, the USDA purchases foods that are then shipped to distribution centers and state agencies.
Beneficiaries also receive nutrition education as part of the program. If you already receive SNAP benefits, you are not eligible for FDPIR.
Find Out About the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)
While CSFP provides a broader coverage of low-income elderly recipients, SFMNP aims to provide seniors with local-grown fresh produce, like fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs. While offering a more nutritious diet for the aged, SFMNP also supports local businesses and farmers through their places of businesses, including roadside stands and community-supported programs.
Defined as individuals older than 59 years of age, beneficiaries cannot have a household income more than 185 percent of the government’s poverty income guidelines. You can access these benefits at senior centers and within senior housing agencies.
The federally subsidized funds support all of the food’s cost. In 2017, more than 800,000 seniors received SFMNP benefits and accessed over 25,000 participating businesses.