The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) In Virginia

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) In Virginia is a federal program designed to help low-income households have better access to food in times of need. TEFAP eligibility is based an individual’s income or enrollment in other public assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. In some cases, TEFAP may be referred to as emergency SNAP benefits in Virginia, but SNAP is a separate program. However, many people who receive SNAP qualify for assistance from more than one program including TEFAP. Note that organizations such as food pantries and soup kitchens are responsible for distributing food to eligible individuals. People who want to apply for emergency food assistance from local organizations simply need to verify their income and household information to receive food. Learn more how TEFAP works, what the eligibility criteria are and how to receive benefits from this program within the information below.

How does TEFAP in Virginia work?

Emergency TEFAP benefits in Virginia are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Funds from the emergency food assistance program allow the USDA to purchase food and distribute it to each state. The USDA considers the poverty level and unemployment rate in each state when determining how to distribute food to each of the state programs. Once the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) receives its allotment of food, the items are delivered to food banks. Finally, food banks in Virginia distribute the items to local food pantries, nonprofit organizations and soup kitchens that serve the public. If an individual has eligibility for emergency food assistance, then he or she will be allowed to collect food from these organizations.

Eligibility for TEFAP in Virginia

Your TEFAP eligibility in Virginia is mostly based on income. The eligibility requirements for emergency food assistance can be met in three different ways. First, you can receive benefits from SNAP or TANF to qualify. Second, getting SSI or Medicaid benefits will make you eligible. And third, you can have a household income that meets a certain threshold. Getting TEFAP in Virginia is possible even if you do not receive assistance from other social service programs. However, note that when you meet the income requirements for TEFAP, you may want to check your eligibility for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid and other programs. Most people who receive emergency TEFAP benefits are dually eligible for other public assistance programs. Learn more about the income limits you must meet for TEFAP by downloading our detailed guide on social services.

How to Apply for TEFAP in Virginia

To apply for emergency food assistance in Virginia, you simply need to fill out a form that verifies your income or that you meet the enrollment requirements for public assistance programs. The TEFAP eligibility form should be available at local food pantries and other organizations that provide free food for low-income residents. When an organization receives your eligibility form, it must keep your information on file and retain your records for a certain period once you stop using TEFAP. After your eligibility certification is filed, you may need to update your record when your income or household size changes. Certifications also need to be renewed periodically to ensure that you are still eligible to receive benefits from your local food provider. While the eligibility requirements for emergency food assistance in Virginia will be the same at any local organization, the steps for signing up may vary. It is best to visit a food organization in your community for more information on applying for the food assistance program and receiving benefits.

How to Use Emergency TEFAP Benefits in Virginia

Benefits from the emergency food assistance program in VA are available from a variety of community organizations that receive food donations from the USDA. After you apply for emergency food assistance, you can visit your local food pantry to receive the items you need. The types of food available will vary based on the current agricultural market. You will usually be able to receive basic foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, meat, eggs, dairy and other essentials. Collecting items from a food shelf allows you to prepare meals in your kitchen. Emergency SNAP benefits are also available through soup kitchens and other similar organizations that provide prepared meals. Examples of other organizations that receive USDA foods include schools, nursing homes, summer programs and day care centers, among others.

If you are eligible for emergency food assistance in Virginia and receive your benefits at a local food pantry, then there are a variety of resources available to help you use your items. For example, recipes for emergency TANF benefits are available from the USDA. Your food pantry may also provide information sheets that help you use all of the food you receive. The USDA publishes information on how to properly store your items and follow food safety guidelines for the supplies you receive. Learn more about the types of benefits available through TEFAP by reading our guide on food assistance and other social services.


Virginia Department of Social Services