Thompson explores USDA nutrition, commodity distribution programs in hearing

Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson

In preparation for drafting the next farm bill, U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) convened a hearing on Tuesday to examine federal nutrition programs and USDA commodity distribution programs.

Thompson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Nutrition Subcommittee, said federal nutrition programs are vital to ensure all Americans have access to healthy foods.

“USDA’s food distribution programs —the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) — strengthen the nutrition safety net through the distribution of USDA foods and other nutrition assistance to children, low-income families, emergency feeding programs, Indian Tribal Organizations and the elderly,” Thompson said.

“These programs provide support to populations in need and help decrease food insecurity in our low-income communities,” he added.

The three USDA commodity distribution programs, and the anti-hunger Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), are each designed to meet the needs of a particular population.

“TEFAP helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost,” Thompson said. “CSFP is targeted at improving the nutrition of low-income elderly people at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with food packages. In both programs, USDA purchases the food and ships it to state agencies and provides support for administrative costs. TEFAP and CSFP state agencies work closely with local agency partners to distribute the USDA Foods in communities,” he explained.

Meanwhile, FDPIR serves as an alternative to SNAP for those who don’t have access to SNAP offices or authorized food stores.

Nobody in America should go hungry, said U.S. Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and USDA food distribution programs help people access healthy foods.

“In addition to serving low-income families, USDA Foods supports American farmers, keeping local agriculture strong by purchasing high quality foods that are distributed through food banks, soup kitchens, Indian tribal organizations and other various local organizations,” Conaway said. “Understanding how these programs serve different needs and populations, as well as how they operate alongside SNAP — the nation’s largest federal nutrition program — will help the committee ensure that our taxpayer dollars are used as efficiently as possible.”