Mountaineer Food Bank has been conducting research as part of the TEFAP Reach and Resiliency grant since August 2022. TEFAP, or the Emergency Food Assistance Program, is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of people with low income by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. When you receive free “USDA” food from the food bank, this is because of TEFAP.
The Reach and Resiliency project has four primary objectives: 1) Conduct a complete assessment and gap analysis of TEFAP agency sites in underserved communities, 2) Identify priority counties for increased TEFAP distribution, 3) Recruit new TEFAP agencies based on gap analysis and hold Town Hall meetings in each identified county, and 4) Develop an online library of learning modules regarding TEFAP regulations and history, civil rights, and other relevant learning tools for TEFAP agencies. Through the gap analysis, we identified several counties that we will assist in strengthening the reach of TEFAP, including Brooke, Hancock, Barbour, Webster, Marshall, Raleigh, Wetzel, and Roane counties.
On October 20th, our first town hall, located in Weirton, WV, brought together folks from diverse backgrounds, expertise, and experience to explore the state of food security in Brooke and Hancock Counties. The group shared in laughter, learning, and listening to deepen our understanding of what limits access to food and quality nutrition and identified strategies to overcome them. Five teams comprised of food pantry staff, school staff, local agencies, state employees, and healthcare workers were assembled to assess the barriers to accessing food and identify community assets and food resources to improve food security. The ~30 participants collectively identified 90+ barriers to food access, 48 assets in the area for food security, and so much more.
Future town halls will be held in our other TEFAP priority counties in early 2024. If you are interested in hosting a town hall in your community, regardless of priority status, please reach out to Emily Tingler at email@example.com.
Emily is also accepting feedback regarding TEFAP as a whole and future TEFAP training modules. If you have any ideas or recommendations, please reach out.