Federal Nutrition Programs
Decisionmakers in Washington D.C. play a critical role in keeping our neighbors fed through nutrition assistance programs that put food on kitchen tables while also helping to ensure that charitable food programs can continue to meet the needs of neighbors who are struggling to afford enough food.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP helps put food on the table for more than 1.9 million Pennsylvanians each month by providing money on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card for food purchases.
SNAP Policy Priorities
The Food Bank works to protect SNAP from funding cuts and harmful policy changes and to improve benefit adequacy. SNAP benefits are already inadequate for most families to purchase enough food to provide a healthy diet throughout the month. The Food Bank mobilizes our network as needed to advocate to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and elected officials about the importance of SNAP for families, farmers, food processors and vendors.
1. Ensure SNAP purchasing power remains strong so that benefits align with rising grocery prices and provide adequate support during tough economic times. This will decrease the need for charitable food assistance, helping to reduce the strain on food banks.
2. Simplify SNAP eligibility and enrollment for older adults, college students, veterans, working families, immigrants and other people facing barriers.
3. Improve assistance to individuals seeking employment by supporting effective state employment and job training programs and ensuring people have access to SNAP benefits as they find work.
4. Allow Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories to participate fully in SNAP and extend flexibility to Native communities to administer the program.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP provides nutritious commodities to food banks which – in partnership with local pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters – provide the food to low-income Americans in need of short-term hunger relief.
TEFAP Policy Priorities
1. Increase funding for TEFAP food purchases to $500 million per year, adjusted for inflation. This will double the funding provided under current law and help ensure food banks can serve everyone who comes through their doors.
2. Increase funding for TEFAP storage and distribution to $200 million per year. This will help food banks offset the cost of storing and transporting USDA foods.
3. Continue to provide $15 million per year for TEFAP infrastructure grants. This program helps expand the capacity and infrastructure of food banks in rural areas.
4. Boost funding for the TEFAP Farm to Food Bank Program, which funds state projects to harvest, package and transport food donations from local farmers.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
Now known as the “PA Senior Food Box Program” in Pennsylvania, CSFP leverages government buying power to provide nutritious food packages each month to low-income seniors with incomes below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Line.
CSFP Policy Priorities
The Food Bank supports efforts to provide sufficient funding for CSFP to maintain current program caseloads.
Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)
The CDBG program works to ensure decent affordable housing; to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities; and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. It is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of community development needs. The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to local governments and states. While the funding flows from the federal government, the ultimate decision regarding the allocation of these funds to the Food Bank rests with Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh governments.
CDBG Policy Priorities
Federal funding for CDBG has been on the decline over the past several years – except for special funding provided for pandemic relief – which has ultimately affected the Food Bank’s allocations from county and city government. The Food Bank works to protect CDBG funding at the federal level and continues to advocate for a strong commitment of funds from Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh governments.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
SFSP is a federally funded, state-administered program. The SFSP reimburses providers who serve free healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas during the summer months when school is not in session.
SFSP Policy Priorities
1. Streamline regulations for community-based providers so that they can feed children year-round
2. Align the area eligibility requirement for summer feeding and educational programs to allow more learning programs to offer meals in the summer
3. Provide a Summer electronic benefits transfer (ebt) grocery card to families with children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals during the summer months and when schools are closed to supplement their household food budgets
4. Allow kids to consume meals off-site, which would enable communities to adopt innovative program models to reach children who lack access to a summer feeding site
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
safeguards the health of low-income women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. WIC enables the purchase of nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support) and referrals to health and other social services.
WIC Policy Priorities
Increase participation of eligible families in WIC to connect more pregnant and postpartum mothers and young children who are low income with health and social service referrals and culturally appropriate, nutritious foods that contribute to their overall health and well-being.
School Breakfast Program (SBP)
SBP is a federally funded meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential childcare institutions. All PA children now qualify for free breakfast at school regardless of income.
SBP Policy Priorities
1. Strengthen access to and quality of school meals to support reducing child hunger, improving nutrition and health, and supporting learning.
2. Make the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program permanent for all out-of-school time throughout the year.Out-of-school time would qualify as any time schools close: summer, weekends, as well as temporary and indefinite school closures.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost, or no-cost lunches to children each school day.
NSLP Policy Priorities
1. Strengthen access to and quality of school meals to support reducing child hunger, improving nutrition and health and supporting learning.
2. Make the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program permanent for all out-of-school time throughout the year. Out-of-school time would qualify as any time schools close: summer, weekends, as well as temporary and indefinite school closures.
Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP)
provides meals and snacks to children in daycare, emergency shelters and afterschool programs, as well as adults through nonresidential adult day care centers.CACFP plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care while making it more affordable for low-income families.
CACFP Policy Priorities
Streamline program regulations to coincide with Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in order to feed children year-round seamlessly through the federal nutrition programs. Currently, SFSP sponsors and schools must apply to and operate CACFP in order to provide children — often the same children — suppers after school during the school year. This creates duplicative paperwork and confusing administrative rules that discourage participation.