Far too many of our neighbors struggle with food insecurity, meaning some our friends and family don’t have consistent access to enough food for everyone in their home to live an active, healthy life. This might be temporary or long-term.
Food insecurity may have short-term and long-term negative impacts on a person’s health and quality of life. People on medication may face serious health consequences when they are forced to choose between spending money on food, medicine, or medical care. For the 1-in-5 kids in West Virginia struggling with food insecurity, it doesn’t just mean their bellies aren’t full, it means they have a tougher time in the classroom learning and their development and growth is impacted. Mountain State seniors – often on a fixed income – that face food insecurity are forced to make difficult decisions as to what they can pay for.
Food shouldn’t be an impossible choice but more than 260,000 West Virginians face food insecurity. Together, we can make West Virginia hunger free.
There are a variety of federal nutrition programs that are intended to help West Virginians facing food insecurity. These programs aim to help seniors, children, and struggling families.
While the programs are federal, states have a huge role in making them a success. Here in West Virginia, the Department of Health and Human Resources, Department of Agriculture, and Education Department are key partners to address hunger.
These programs are funded at the federal level through the Farm Bill or appropriations. It’s likely you’ve heard of these programs or benefitted from them.
Below is a look at the federal nutrition programs.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA Foods and makes them available to state distributing agencies. Learn more here
Commodity Supplemental Food Program
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), often called “the senior box program”, serves low-income seniors with incomes of less than 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (approximately $15,301 for a senior living alone). CSFP helps vulnerable seniors from having to choose between food and other basic needs. Learn more here
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal nutrition assistance program. SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This card can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized
retail food stores Learn more here
Summer Food Service Program
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures children (18 years and younger) in lower-income areas continue to receive free, nutritious meals during the summer when they do not have access to the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program. Learn more here
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
The TANF program, which is time limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relative cannot provide for the families basic needs. Programs may include child care assistance, job preparation, and work assistance. Learn more here
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Learn more here
Child and Adult Care Food Program
The Child and Adult Care Food Program provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers.
CACFP also provides reimbursements for meals served to children and youth participating in afterschool care programs, children residing in emergency shelters, and adults over the age of 60 or living with a disability and enrolled in day care facilities. Learn more here