Other Food Assistance Programs

On this page: FederalLocalState


Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) all provide assistance to food-insecure older adults with specific needs that may not be met by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ( SNAPSupplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) SNAP provides a monthly supplement for purchasing nutritious food. If you qualify, you’ll get a debit card to use for groceries. Also commonly called Food Stamps. , formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).

TEFAP was originally created to reduce government surpluses from agricultural support programs while also helping low-income households. In 1988 Congress began to appropriate funds specifically for TEFAP, while continuing to allocate program surplus goods to TEFAP.

For FY 2016, Congress appropriated $318.2 million for food purchases within TEFAP. This included $314.3 million to purchase agricultural commodities and $3.7 million to help state and local agencies order and transport the food to centers such as soup kitchens and food banks. The need for emergency food assistance has grown as the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) fails to accurately reflect the costs of food, meaning that SNAP benefits are sometimes insufficient. Also, some who would have been eligible for food stamps and other public assistance prior to the 1996 welfare reform law can be denied benefits in some circumstances, such as those that are Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents.

The CSFP is available in participating states to people age 60 and older with incomes of up to 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines amounts. Each month CSFP participants receive a nutritionally balanced food package valued at about $25. This is made up of protein-rich foods (such as tuna and peanut butter), fruits and vegetables, juice, and a carbohydrate ingredient (such as rice or pasta). In FY 2015, CSFP served an average of 572,000 people each month in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and with two Indian tribal organizations. In FY 2016, Congress appropriated $222.198 million to CSFP.

The program depends on federal appropriations, and the number of participants is determined by funding availability and state participation. Congress has increased federal authorizations to allow more states to participate in the CSFP.

The SFMNP provides grants to states to provide fresh produce to low-income older adults through coupons or vouchers to be used at farmers markets or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations. In FY 2014, 787,139 people in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico received these coupons. The coupons or vouchers, which averaged $31, were used at 3,912 farmers markets (benefitting 20,248 farmers), 3,177 roadside stands, and 154 CSAs.

To qualify, adults must be age 60 or older and have an income below 185% of the federal poverty line. Many states tie eligibility to participation in another nutrition program, such as CSFP.

The CACFP provides cash subsidies to child-care and family day-care centers, and non-residential adult-care centers similar to the National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program. While the program primarily serves children, in FY 2015 73.3 million meals were served to adults with disabilities or over the age of 60 in non-residential care centers. For those older adults in households with incomes below 130% of the poverty line, or if they receive TANF or SNAP, they can receive a free meal, and if their household income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty line they can receive a reduced-price meal.

Other Food Assistance Programs

Funding Levels

In this policy: FederalState

Congress should continue to fully fund TEFAP.

Congress should, at a minimum, maintain real (inflation-adjusted) funding levels for CSFP but try to increase funding so all states can participate.

Congress should fund SFMNP so that all states can participate. Congress should adequately fund CACFP and maintain strict nutrition standards.


In this policy: State

All states should apply to administer the CSFP.


In this policy: FederalLocalState

States should take advantage of the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988, which provides matching funds to states that have food assistance outreach programs for low-income families.

Federal and state governments should establish a plan for education and outreach to older adults for benefits such as CSFP and SFMNP.

State agencies should work to ensure that adult day-care facilities are aware of CACFP.