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)

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)

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.

Find your Federal Legislators! Click here.

State Nutrition Programs

Advocate with Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Feeding Pennsylvania for increased funding for state nutitrition programs.


State Food Purchase Program (SFPP)

Since 1983, SFPP has been Pennsylvania’s most important tools in the public-private fight against hunger. SFPP provides funding to all 67 counties to support the purchase and distribution of nutritious food and to provide enhanced access to surplus federal food commodities.

Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS)

PASS helps charitable food providers secure a variety of surplus agricultural products produced in Pennsylvania, creating additional supply to feed those who are at risk of hunger and providing an alternative market for farmers.

Universal School Meals

In 2023, the PA legislature voted to approve universal school breakfast for all children attending schools that participate in the National School Breakfast program and to provide free lunch to all students living at or below 185% of federal poverty in all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. The Food Bank supports these efforts and would support additional efforts to extend universal lunch to all students, eliminate school lunch debt, and ensure that schools have enough funding to cover the costs of healthy meals for all students.

Find your State Legislators! Click here.

Local Nutrition Programs

Working with local partners, we encourage local officials to prioritize investments in nutrition assistance programs and innovative ideas that increase food access.


Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was enacted by the federal government in 1974. Today, it provides annual grants to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that are further allocated on a formula basis to approximately 200 local governments within Pennsylvania.

CDBG is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs, such as infrastructure, housing and community facilities. It also provides funds to develop viable communities through the provision of housing improvements and building suitable living environments, expand economic opportunities geared to low- and moderate-income individuals and improve critical community health and welfare infrastructure.

Annual funding is designated to municipalities through the state entitlement program, which includes counties, cities, boroughs, towns and townships throughout the commonwealth. Project funding is available to eligible local governments through the competitive program set aside for critical infrastructure or revitalization projects.

The CDGB program allocates funds to provide services throughout the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. These funds are a critical resource to Food Bank member agencies, providing nutrition assistance for food insecure residents.

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 allocation from county and city government. The Food Bank will work to protect CDBG funding at the federal level and continue to advocate for a strong commitment of funds from Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh governments.

Pittsburgh Food Justice Fund

The City of Pittsburgh has established a $3 million Food Justice Fund to support stakeholders of our local food system, including growers, producers, retailers, and providers. The Fund will provide grants to individuals, organizations, and businesses in communities most impacted by inequities in access to affordable, healthy food.

Federal and State Tax Policies

The Food Bank actively monitors and acts to protect existing tax deductions and credit for donations of food and funds to charitable food assistance organizations and to encourage the continuation of the exclusion of food from the state sales tax.


Child Tax Credit (CTC)

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) program allows low- and moderate-income families to reduce their tax liability for each qualifying child under the age of 17.

The 2021 American Rescue Plan increased the value of the CTC to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for those age 6-17. It also made the tax credit fully refundable, ensuring families with lower incomes receive a greater increase in the amount received and making the credit available to many extremely low-income families for the first time. Food purchases were the most common use of the expanded CTC. These increased family funds reduced food insecurity by 19% among families with children. The expanded CTC expired in December 2021.

CTC Policy Priorities
Expand the Child Tax Credit to make the full credit available to children in families with the lowest incomes. This expansion was a leading cause for reducing child poverty during the pandemic, but that expansion has expired leaving 1 in 4 children under age 17 ineligible for the full tax credit.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit available to eligible workers earning relatively low wages. The EITC is provided to individuals and families once a year, in a lump-sum payment after individuals and families file their federal income tax returns. The amount of the credit a taxpayer receives is based on the prior year’s earned income and family composition.

The 2021 American Rescue Plan expanded this tax credit, with the additional benefits targeted to younger, low-income taxpayers without dependents. This expansion expired on December 31, 2021.

EITC Policy Priorities
Make permanent the temporary expansion of the EITC that is making critical financial resources available to low-income, working adults.

Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP)

The Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) is a tax credit program which encourages businesses to invest in projects that improve the quality of life of Pennsylvanians. This initiative has enabled the private sector to donate millions of dollars to community organizations while substantially reducing their tax burden.

The Charitable Food Program (CFP) component of NAP (one of four) is focused on improving food security in Pennsylvania. CFP assists charitable programs that provide food to low-income populations in distressed areas. A tax credit of up to 55% can be awarded.

Reject the extension of the state sales tax to include food

Pennsylvania does not apply its sales tax to grocery purchases. Proposals to reform state taxes have frequently included provisions that would cut or eliminate property taxes and instead increase sales taxes and/or broaden the goods and services subject to the to levy. Since application of a 6 percent tax on food (7 percent in Allegheny County) would increase food costs to the people we serve, the Food Bank opposes such proposals.

Root Cause Advocacy

The Food Bank is committed to partnering on advocacy efforts that address root causes of hunger. These include poverty, racism, lack of affordable housing, inadquate access to health care, and more. Please reach out to our Advocacy team at [email protected] to connect with us on partnership opportunities. Learn more here!

Ready to take action? Our neighbors are depending on it.

Raise your voice to help support critical programs like SNAP, TEFAP and CSFP by supporting a strong farm bill that helps both farmers and families.

Take Action