USDA approves statewide plan for disaster food distribution


HARRISBURG Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has received federal approval to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program.

The USDA gave approval to implement the distribution program through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), giving food banks increased flexibility to serve Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts and enhancing public health and safety for workers, volunteers and emergency food recipients.

TEFAP is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. USDA provides each state with 100% American-grown commodities and administrative funds to help defray costs related to TEFAP storage, transportation, and distribution.

Pennsylvania’s Disaster Household Distribution program will temporarily waive the need for income eligibility paperwork to be filled out in order to receive USDA Foods delivered to the state as part of the TEFAP Trade Mitigation and TEFAP Bonus programs. The waiver is in place to ensure that the charitable food network can efficiently distribute a variety of nutritious foods, based on availability, to those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of non-life-sustaining businesses.

“Our food banks and pantries are working hard to continue to meet the needs of the more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians who face hunger, while supporting our neighbors who are Page | 2 temporarily unemployed and need assistance,” Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director Sheila Christopher said. “We have made critical changes to the way we operate in order to protect our employees, volunteers, and the people we serve. Having this waiver will allow us to continue to be efficient in serving the additional need while ensuring the health and well-being of everyone involved.”

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