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The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

What is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federally funded program that assists with supplementing the diets of low-income Americans, including the elderly, by providing them with emergency nutrition assistance at no cost.

Under TEFAP, USDA Foods are made available by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia provides these foods to local agencies, such as food banks, which in turn distribute the food to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. The distribution of TEFAP food occurs in various ways:

  • Food Pantries distribute food packages containing both TEFAP foods and privately donated foods to eligible individuals who have demonstrated emergency food needs. Organizations that distribute food for home use, must determine the household eligibility by applying the income standards set by the USDA each year. Households must re-apply for benefits each year once the income eligibility guidelines are published.
  • Soup Kitchens and homeless shelters use TEFAP food in the preparation of hot and cold meals which are served to needy individuals. Organizations that provide prepared meals must demonstrate that they serve predominately needy individuals in order to be eligible to receive commodities. Recipients of prepared meals are considered to be needy and are not subject to a means test.

Information for Individuals

To be eligible to receive TEFAP from a food pantry, you must be a resident of the District of Columbia, and meet the DC TEFAP income guidelines. The DC TEFAP income guidelines can be found under the Resources section of this page.

There are no restrictions on how often a household can receive TEFAP foods and how often food pantries can distribute TEFAP to households.

To find a TEFAP food pantry near you, visit the Capital Area Food Bank Get Help Page to search by zip code or call (202) 644-9807.

Information for Distributing Organizations

To be eligible to distribute TEFAP commodities, an organization must be a public or private non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is the distributing organization, contracted by the District of Columbia, to operate the TEFAP program and distribute USDA Foods to agencies that operate feeding and nutrition programs for eligible DC residents. For information on being a sub-recipient agency, contact the Capital Area Food Bank on (202) 644-9807.

If you would like further information or to speak with someone about the TEFAP program, please contact DC Health's TEFAP Contact at (202) 442-5925.

Information can also be found on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) website.

USDA Civil Rights


Service Contact: 
Danita Banks
Contact Phone: 
(202) 442-5925
Contact Fax: 
(202) 535-1710
Contact TTY: 
Contact Suite #: 
3rd Floor
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

899 North Capitol Street, NE

GIS Address: 
899 North Capitol Street, NE