Views on Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program and Commodities for Soup Kitchens

T-RCED-90-69: Published: Apr 18, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 1990.

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GAO discussed the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and a new program to provide commodities to soup kitchens or food banks. GAO found that: (1) commodities distributors said that despite a startup delay in fiscal year 1989, mandatory purchase requirements seemed to work effectively; (2) no delays occurred in 1990; (3) despite some problems, state officials and recipients were satisfied with the commodities that USDA provided; (4) recipient agency officials said that they did not receive nutritionally balanced food and that there were problems with funding and paperwork requirements; (5) the number of meals being served with soup kitchen commodities has been increasing and reflects a growing need for the program; (6) each state determined how it would allocate the commodities to its recipient agencies; (7) USDA officials encouraged states to make commodities available first to soup kitchens and then to offer the remainder to food banks; (8) USDA recognized the need for variety, but had to make purchases within its own budget constraints; (9) state and local agency officials suggested possible administration changes for the soup kitchen program; (10) state and local officials said they needed some commodities in smaller containers; and (11) 13 recipient agencies said commodities should come from the four basic food groups.

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