USDA/TEFAP One-Year Agreement



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The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

Agency Information

I understand the recordkeeping required for my agency to receive and distribute USDA commodities through The Emergency Food Assistance program of USDA/NCDA and that there will be no shared-maintenance handling fee on these foods.

  • An agency must be a MANNA FoodBank emergency food provider in good standing to be eligible for TEFAP distribution.
  • Limits:
    • Commodities may be distributed to households as needed, but not more than once per week.
    • Agencies cannot store more than a three-month supply of commodities at any given time. Use the First In, First Out (FIFO) method as advised in food safety training, and strive to distribute all products within the quarter they were received.
  • Eligibility criteria used: 200% of federal poverty line (USDA).
  • Yearly Client Eligibility Form must be signed by certifying pantry representatives and recipient of commodities. You must keep this document on file for a period of FIVE years. Remember that each client must sign for their food each time they pick up. Refer to page 2 of the Yearly Eligibility Form.
  • Agencies are not permitted to impose any additional qualifications or conditions not found on the TEFAP form provided by MANNA.
  • Client Files must be kept confidential.
  • Distribution rates must be documented and kept on file for 5 years. You may set your own, or use the example on MANNA’s website.
  • Agencies must report their ending inventory and the number of households and clients served on a monthly basis via MANNA’s online ordering system (Web Windows). All reports are due no later than the 15th of each month. Agencies that do not submit their data will be unable to place any orders or receive additional TEFAP product until the omission is corrected. Agencies that do not submit the monthly report may be suspended from the TEFAP program and may have food bank membership terminated if product cannot be accounted for.
  • Agencies are required to submit a monthly report even if there was no distribution for a given month. Record “0” for the number of households and individuals served.
  • Pantries must have adequate food storage capabilities per regular criteria for agency participation as to temperature and distance from floor. TEFAP commodities must be stored and labeled separately from regular inventory. You must comply with these storage regulations when housing USDA commodities.
  • All TEFAP agencies are expected to accept & distribute all TEFAP foods that are allocated to your agency/county. MANNA will work with you on perishable items in the event of storage concerns. TEFAP orders are not allowed to be rejected upon pick-up or delivery; arrangements must be made at least 3 business days in advance.
  • Safe food handling and storage practices are required per regular criteria for agency participation and per MANNA FoodBank. TEFAP commodities can never be repackaged for any reason. Damaged packages must be disposed of and reported on MANNA’s TEFAP loss report.
  • Partner agencies are required to attend MANNA’s food safety training, or complete an approved training through ServSafe or NC Safe Plates.
  • Freezer and cooler temperatures are required to be checked and recorded daily to prevent food loss. The temperature log must be available for review for FIVE years.
  • Federal non-discrimination poster must be displayed in your pantry, as well as the “You may Qualify” sign, No ID sign, and for faith-based agencies the Notice of Beneficiary Rights sign.
  • All staff and volunteers who distribute TEFAP must review the Civil Rights Training yearly, sign the sheet provided by MANNA, and return to MANNA. New TEFAP staff and volunteers throughout the year must also complete the training before serving clients. Additionally, each agency must send at least one primary TEFAP representative to mandatory training provided by MANNA and NCDA.

I understand that failure to adhere to these requirements, including the submission of monthly inventory and stats on households/clients served, will result in immediate suspension from MANNA’s TEFAP program.

I will abide by these requirements with the understanding that our distribution records may be monitored by a representative from MANNA FoodBank or NCDA at any time. I understand that noncompliance with the record keeping for freezer/cooler temperatures could result in a claim for payment of any cooler/frozen food loss. Procedures must be in place to prevent a loss on dry goods which also could result in a claim for payment.

Addendum: TEFAP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - January 1st, 2020

  1. How do we handle two individuals living in the same household? How much can that household get? There may be several “households” within a single address/house, similar to FNS (Food Stamps) guidelines. The general rule to determine more than one unit per household is “Do you buy and prepare food separately from others in the household?”. Each separate “household” qualifies for TEFAP commodities according to the application requirements. It is the participants’ responsibility to provide accurate information on the TEFAP application. Their signature on the TEFAP application indicates an understanding of the following statement. “I understand that any misrepresentation of need, sale, or misuse of the foods I have received is prohibited and could result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. (Section 211E, PL 96-494, and Section 4C, PL 93-86 as amended)” Also, distribution rates may be increased accordingly for larger households. The key is to establish distribution rates before distribution starts, and DO NOT ALTER rates. For example, a household of 4 would receive 4 cans of corn, whereas a household of 8 may receive eight cans. Or, you may use the standard household size of 1-3 or 4 or more and set distribution rates from there.
  2. Does NCDA have a TEFAP handbook? Yes! Please note that it was written in 2016 and is currently under revision. Here is the link: 2016 TEFAP Program Handbook (PDF)
  3. If I am picking up TEFAP for someone who cannot come to the pantry, what documentation do I need to have? The TEFAP application does have a place for the applicant to list a “Proxy” to pick up their food it they are not available. However, we all know that situations arise that neither individual can come to a distribution. In this case, the APPLICANT may write a letter, dated and signed, stating that another individual (full name stated) may pick up their TEFAP package and serve as their Proxy. This letter should be stapled to the application to serve as a legal document. When the applicate is available, have them add the additional proxy to the application. It’s best practice to ask each client when they are at your pantry filling out the form for the new year if they’d like to list a proxy or two.
  4. Can pantries use own their own TEFAP form? No. MANNA requires a pantry to use a specific application and may not change or edit the application without the food bank’s permission. Also, do not record any racial/ethnic data or other personal information on the TEFAP application other than what is required to determine eligibility. Age and race statistics for monthly reporting are based on observation only, you do not have to ask clients for this information. Please use the form provided by MANNA as found on the website here. The front should be completed in full each year and each section on the back must be completed each time the client receives TEFAP. Client and intake worker signatures are required each time a client receives TEFAP.

    All TEFAP applications must contain:

    1. Name
    2. Address
    3. Number of people in household
    4. County of residence
    5. Client signature
    6. Basis of eligibility (FNS eligibility or income, income or FNS use must be asked each time and recorded)
    7. Date of application
    8. Signature of agency representative

    * Each time an applicant receives TEFAP, you must document the date, signature of the applicant, signature/initials of the qualifying agency’s volunteer or staff, and note any changes in income/qualification. (on the back of application.)

  5. Why do we have to take all TEFAP items? This is a USDA requirement based on maintaining fair and equitable distribution to meet Civil Rights requirements. It is USDA’s goal that someone receiving a TEFAP box in Transylvania county receives the same amount/type of foods as someone in California, to the best of our ability. Everyone should have fair and equal access to all USDA programs. On a limited basis, if you feel that you are unable to accept perishable TEFAP items due to space capacity or any other reason, please contact Glenda Gragg ( within at least 3 business days.  Refusing product upon pick up or delivery is no longer permissible as this puts a lot of extra work on our warehouse staff. See #9 on how to move less popular dry products. Your invoice may be viewed usually at least one week in advance.
  6. Can we require ID or other documentation for TEFAP? No. The rules that govern TEFAP come from Civil Rights law and you must take each client at their word for this program. If you require ID for other programs, please distribute TEFAP prior to those other programs to avoid a conflict of rules. Please store or file any additional information your agency requires for programs aside from TEFAP separately from TEFAP forms. Also, if your pantry requires ID or documentation for other programs please post the “No ID Required to Receive TEFAP” sign that can be found in TEFAP documents at The sign is also on page 4 of this document.
  7. Do homeless clients qualify if they have no address? Yes. You may simply put a general area in the county of where they are staying, such as Murphy Wal-Mart parking lot, or the banks of the Tuckasegee River.
  8. Do undocumented immigrants qualify? Yes, unlike every other federal program, this population may receive TEFAP food. TEFAP forms are available in Spanish on the MANNA website TEFAP section.
  9. Can we distribute to clients outside our county? Yes! In the past, NCDA&CS Food Distribution TEFAP policy would not allow TEFAP participants to cross the county line. Over the years, situations arose in which a participant may reside near the county line and the TEFAP pantry be located closer to their residence in the neighboring county. In an effort to support TEFAP participants that may be in this situation, effective November 1, 2019, NCDA&CS will be flexible regarding this policy, allowing participants to apply/receive TEFAP in their neighboring county should they meet the income eligibility criteria.
  10. What do we do with less popular product that doesn’t move easily through client choice? An easy way to move the unpopular TEFAP product is to have clients sign for the full amount of all available products as if they’re taking it. Once they sign for it they can do with it as they please, including donating it right back to your pantry. You can then move these TEFAP leftovers into your regular pantry stock and make it first come first serve and it will move quickly that way. This will also make your monthly inventory reporting MUCH easier! Please be sure to mark TEFAP items that have been donated back to your pantry in a way that identifies them as such.
  11. May we set our own distribution rates? Yes! You may set you own distribution rates if you (A.) establish and document the rates prior to distribution, and (B.) keep the rate the same until all product for that period/quarter is distributed. An editable allocation sheet is available on our website, or you may make your own, just be sure to keep it in your TEFAP files for 5 years. Setting your own distribution rate can also help move less popular product more quickly. For example, a household of 1-3 might get 4 cans of chick peas and a household of 4 or more might get 8. Or, you can set the rate per person, for example 3 cans of chick peas per person in the household.
  12. May we ask clients to participate in prayer, worship services, or any religious activity prior to or during TEFAP distribution? No. Under the federal Civil Rights law that governs TEFAP, religion must be left out of TEFAP distributions. Also, for faith-based distributions please post the “Notice of Beneficiary Rights” sign. For further information please see the USDA’s “Equal Opportunity for Religious Organizations” policy at
  13. May we hold back some items to distribute as we see fit? No. All TEFAP product must be distributed on a “First Come, First Serve” basis.


I have read, understand, and attest that my agency will abide by all TEFAP rules and procedures as established by the USDA, NCDA, and MANNA Food Bank.

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