Emergency Food Programs Cut: SNAP & TEFAP

Many organizations that distribute food to the poor are troubled by recent federal budget cuts affecting “The Emergency Food Assistance Program” (TEFAP), which is operated by the USDA and linked to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  TEFAP is the program that, among other things, distributes commodity foods to tribes across the U.S., as part of the government’s treaty obligations.  The amount of TEFAP funding is part of the Farm Bill and tied to the 2009 indexes for SNAP.  One can only hope that adjustments were made to allow for the increasing need of families in our tough economy.

After subtracting the cost of transporting the food, a program fee, and food dollars convertible to administrative use, the 2011 TEFAP budget spendable for emergency food was $219.4 million. Comparatively, the 2012 TEFAP budget spendable for emergency food is $230.7 million. So where is the cut? While the overall TEFAP budget increased,  emergency funding was cut for some very high-need states.

Prompted by confusion, concern, a story from Feeding South Dakota  (one of our food pantry partners), and the fact that South Dakota and North Dakota  are home to five of the poorest counties in America and 15 American Indian tribes, I looked up the TEFAP allocations for SD, ND, and several other states we serve.

This research clarified that the TEFAP cuts occurred in the operational funding allowed to administer TEFAP programs. Already stressed by the increasing need of families in the past two years, it is clear why food banks and  humanitarian organizations in SD, as well as NE, MT, WY, and AZ, would be concerned. This is especially true for organizations providing food for families on the reservations. These locations are often known to be food deserts (meaning low income areas where the nearest grocer is over a mile away), and 1 in 4 American Indians already suffer from food insecurity (meaning resource constraints that limit the ability to buy food, concerns about running out of food, not eating so the children can eat, or experiencing persistent hunger). Anything that could jeopardize or limit the provision of food to these families is a cause for concern.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted October 9, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    This seems to be a dilemna in all inanetcss where natural resources are taken from, adjacent, to tribal trust real property. For both federal and state or other ad valorem taxes, there should be in place an agreement or compact type of agreement whereby taxes are charged and deposited to the primary beneficiary, for instance if the real property is fee simple then Federal & State government would be primary; if tribal or individual trust real property then the Tribe would be primary; if there is a situation where the resource is on fee simple real property within the trust boudnaries of a federally recognized Indian Reservation then the Federal/State & Tribal Beneficiaries should share accordingly. Too many times we make agreement both in and around tribal government much harder than it really is, and the above would motivate all parties to see the clarity and benefit to each taxable entity. Taxation is at the heart of responsible government in these days and tribes have to recognize that taxation is another form of income for tribal government just like federal, state, municiple, corporate, and city government. There should be a separate and distinct form of tax law under IRS; and State Law; that protects the tribal trust areas so that the equity of taxation can be understood and clear for these types of natural resource, retail, commerce, etc.

  2. Posted March 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been
    doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered
    me lunch simply because I found it for him… lol.
    So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this matter here on your site.

  3. Posted November 17, 2015 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    This info is invaluable. Where can I find out more?

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