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Nutrition: The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that provides food assistance to those with low incomes. The food is distributed through local agencies, such as:

  • Food pantries — This is a place where a person can get food to take home and prepare at no cost.
  • Prepared meal sites — This is a place where a person can go and eat a prepared meal at no cost, such as a soup kitchen or emergency shelter. Those who seek meals at food kitchens and shelters do not need to meet income guidelines.

Who is eligible

You are eligible to obtain groceries once per month if your gross household income does not exceed 200% of the poverty level. Check the eligibility income guidelines for more information.

Food pantries

To find a TEFAP pantry, go to 211 Wisconsin. You can also call 211 to find the location and hours of a food pantry near you.

When you go to the pantry, bring your ID and proof of residence, such as a utility bill. You will probably need to complete a brief eligibility application when you pick up the food.

Types of food available

The groceries usually include a variety of canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, beans, rice, and/or grain products. The protein items may include canned salmon, tuna, peanut butter, and occasionally chicken or meat.

The food provided by TEFAP is a supplement. Supplies and amounts vary. The groceries provides food for about three to five days.

Other food programs

You may also be eligible for the FoodShare program. Learn how to apply for FoodShare benefits. If you live in Milwaukee County, refer to the Milwaukee Enrollment Services.

Information for TEFAP providers

Requirements and recommendations for food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that distribute USDA Commodity Foods, P-01126 (PDF)

In effect from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023

Related topics

The following sites include national and state food assistance programs, as well as other groups working to fight hunger.

Who to contact for help

Questions? Email us:

Last revised May 3, 2023