By Frank Lewis
In an area of Appalachia where the poverty level is high, food banks and food pantries are a top priority, and with nearly one in seven Ohio families lacking reliable access to food, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Tuesday called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure that The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) can continue to provide local food banks with commodity foods.
In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Brown and 22 of his Senate colleagues urged him to distribute existing funding through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to purchase additional foods for distribution to food banks in Ohio and across America. Brown said TEFAP helps supply low-income senior citizens and families with nutritious commodity foods, including canned fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, beans, pasta, peanut butter, rice, and soups.
“With paychecks failing to keep pace with the rising cost of food, many Ohio families are turning to local food pantries and banks to ensure they don’t go hungry,” Brown said. “But unless USDA provides additional support through The Emergency Food Assistance Program, Ohio food banks could face bare shelves in the face of rising demand. By using existing funding, USDA can purchase additional food for the TEFAP program and help ensure that more Ohio families and children have access to nutritious foods.”
Brown said without any additional purchases of TEFAP commodities by USDA, the funding levels for the program will drop by $78 million in fiscal year 2015 from fiscal year 2014. He said many food banks in Ohio and across the country could face the prospect of seriously depleted food stocks in the coming months if the USDA does not purchase additional commodity foods.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.