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The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) was initiated in 1981 to reduce inventories and storage costs of surplus USDA foods through distribution to needy households. While some surplus food is still distributed through TEFAP, Congress (since 1989) has appropriated funds to purchase additional USDA foods for households. South Dakota uses TEFAP USDA foods in the soup kitchens and food banks.

TEFAP was not designed to serve as a primary food source. It was designed as an outlet for surplus USDA foods, and it has effectively achieved that goal.

In South Dakota, the USDA donated food for distribution is sent to food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and community action programs. These agencies are referred to as eligible recipient agencies (ERA) and must be public or private non-profit agencies that meet the program requirements.

Recipient eligibility to receive USDA foods from food pantries is determined by completion of an intake application form provided by the food pantry indicating household and financial circumstances at or below 185% poverty level, name, number in household, and address. In South Dakota a family qualifying for reduced price meals qualifies them for this program. The chart giving the household sizes and income eligibility guidelines is found by clicking the red Child and Adult Nutrition Services tab.

For more information, contact the SD Department of Education, Child and Adult Nutrition Services at 605-773-3413, or