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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’ instability and economic 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.

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:

Increase funding for food purchases through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): With the economic recovery from COVID-19 still underway, we urge Congress to provide $900 million in additional TEFAP funding through September 30, 2022. Food banks across the country, including the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, rely on TEFAP to provide nutritious, American-grown food to families in need. About a quarter of the food we distribute each year is provided through this program alone. Additional funding will allow food banks to continue responding to the heightened demand and ensure no one in our community is left behind.

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 noncongregate 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:

  • Protect and strengthen SNAP in Ohio: We urge the Ohio General Assembly to protect SNAP from harmful cuts, such as those proposed in Ohio Senate Bill 17 (S.B. 17). As written, S.B. 17 would have made it harder for people to apply for and maintain their SNAP benefits. Instead of making it harder for income-eligible Ohioans to access SNAP, we encourage our state officials to strengthen SNAP for low-income families with children. This can be done by increasing the income limit for families with children who direct a significant portion of their income to child care and other essential expenses.
  • Increase the capacity of food banks to meet the need: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 an additional 100,000 people between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020 when compared to the year prior. We need to build upon our partnership with the State of Ohio to ensure that food banks 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 lunch 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, & breads.
  • Child and Adults Care Food Program (CACFP aka “Kids Café Program”): This program provides meals and snacks to children in schools, day cares, 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 is the Ohio Food Program and Ohio Agicultural 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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