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Current Priorities

Current Priorities

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank engages in advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels with the goal of strengthening vital nutrition programs.

The Food Bank is on a mission to eliminate food insecurity in our community, but we know that is bigger than just providing additional meals. In order to truly tackle food insecurity, we must reduce the difficult choices that contribute to households’ long-term economic instability.

Our new three-year strategic plan aims to do just that by reaching more income-eligible people with nutritious food, providing them with access to public benefits, and creating a national model to provide outstanding access to wraparound services that can address the underlying causes of food insecurity.

We need every available resource to make that happen. That is where government programs and partnerships come in. Read below for information on our policy priorities for the year ahead as well as a glossary of federal and state programs operating at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

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Federal Nutrition Priorities

Although half of the food distributed by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank is acquired through food and monetary donations, the simple reality is that the Food Bank could not serve as many people without strong federal nutrition programs. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP, aka our Kids Cafe Program), and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP, aka our Summer Feeding Program) allow the food bank to stretch our dollars and provide free, nutritious food to our partner programs. In addition, hundreds of thousands of individuals in our service area rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to keep food on the table. SNAP extends our reach deep into the community, providing 9 meals for every 1 meal provided by the Food Bank.

In order to protect and strengthen federal programs that impact those struggling with food insecurity in our community, we are advocating to:

Pass the 2023 Farm Bill with continued support and increased investments in nutrition and food assistance programs: The farm bill is the nation’s centerpiece federal legislation for food and farming. It impacts access to nutritious food for people facing hunger in the U.S. Congress reauthorizes the farm bill approximately every five years; lawmakers are working to reauthorize the farm bill in 2023.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank urges Congress Members to develop policy priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill. Members must work together on a strong bipartisan bill that will increase investments in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). TEFAP provides our nation’s emergency hunger-relief organizations with food to help serve community members needing food assistance. While food banks work tirelessly to secure charitable food donations and purchase food, food banks would not be able to meet the demand for emergency hunger relief without United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) foods, including TEFAP. TEFAP helped 193 food banks in the Feeding America food bank network distribute 1.7 billion meals to neighbors in need last year. TEFAP accounted for 21% of the food GCFB distributed last year.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) is our nation’s largest anti-hunger program. It has proven to be effective in reducing the burden of hunger for millions of individuals facing food insecurity. While our nation’s food banks work tirelessly to provide emergency hunger relief to neighbors in need of food assistance, the charitable food system cannot solve hunger alone. For every meal provided by the charitable food system, SNAP provides nine. The Food Bank assisted in over 11,000 SNAP applications last year and we urge Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Strengthen child nutrition programs through Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR): We urge Congress to pass a strong CNR bill that better meets the needs of children when they are most vulnerable to hunger. Child nutrition programs provide a critical safeguard against hunger, but they are only effective when they reach the children who need help. Through CNR, Congress should look to streamline rules for child nutrition programs (such as CACFP and SFSP), allow for flexibility to better reach kids through non-congregate feeding models, extend and expand the Summer-EBT program, and lower the area eligibility test to reach more children in rural and other low-income areas. 

State Nutrition Priorities

In addition to our federal nutrition programs, the Food Bank also works closely with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and the State of Ohio to distribute local produce, protein items, and pantry staples to families in need. Through the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program, the Ohio Association of Foodbanks works directly with farmers across the state to purchase produce and protein items that would otherwise be plowed under, as grocery stores and food distributors hesitate to purchase fruits and vegetables that do not meet the expectations of customers. With the support of Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly during the 2021-2022 state budget process, we were grateful to receive $12 million in CARES Act funding to support these programs.

As we look ahead to the economic recovery, we are advocating to:

  • Increase the capacity of food banks to meet the need: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs from record rates of inflation, food banks across Ohio have seen an increase in the number of people turning to emergency food programs for help. At the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, we served the most people in the month of November 2022 than we have compared to prior years during that month. We need to build upon our partnership with the State of Ohio for continued investments in the state budget for food purchasing from Ohio growers and producers. This will ensure that food banks across the state will have the capacity they need to address food security today, while also helping families build food security tomorrow.

Program Glossary

What is TEFAP?

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that provides nutritious food to low-income families in need of emergency food assistance while delivering vital support to America’s farm communities and food producers through annual purchases of commodities. Some of the foods provided through TEFAP include fresh oranges and apples, milk, potatoes, rice, juice, beans, oats, and more. For more information on this program, click here.

What is CSFP?

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federal program that supplements the diets of low-income seniors with monthly boxes of nutritious food. These boxes total about thirty pounds of food, including items like juice, oats, peanut butter, and canned fruits and vegetables. For information on how the GCFB participates in this program, click here.

What is Children's Nutrition Reauthorization?

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR) authorizes all federal school meal and child nutrition programs. It is reauthorized every five years and expired on September 30, 2015, as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Although it expired, programs funded by CNR are permanently authorized and continue to operate. We're working this year to advocate for the reauthorization and increases in funding for these programs, which include the following:

  • National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program (NSLP and SBP): This program provides free or reduced-price school lunches to children from income-qualifying families.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, & Children (WIC): Similar to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), program participants, which include pregnant mothers and women with children up to age five, receive benefits on an electronic benefits card. The program funds the purchase of specific foods like infant cereal, formula, juice, eggs, milk, protein items, baby foods, & bread.
  • Child and Adults Care Food Program (CACFP aka “Kids Café Program”): This program provides meals and snacks to children in schools, daycares, afterschool programs, and more. The programs must be located in an area where at least 50% of children are eligible for NSLP or SBP.
  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP aka “Summer Feeding Program”): This program provides meals to children in camps, schools, and community centers during the summer months when school is not in session.

What are the Ohio Food Program and Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program?

The Ohio Food Program makes nutritious, shelf-stable food and protein items available to Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks. Through funding made possible by the State of Ohio, and in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and dozens of vendors and producers, the Ohio Food Program (OFP) provides millions of pounds of center-of-the-plate foods to hungry Ohio households each year.

The Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program (OACP) directs surplus or unmarketable agricultural products from nearly 100 Ohio farmers, growers and producers to Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks. The program provides tens of millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to hungry Ohio households each year and is funded by the State of Ohio in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

For more information on how these programs work, click here.

Why is SNAP so important?

Watch the video below to understand how much impact this program has.

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