State's food banks restocked through emergency food program

OLYMPIA -- Relief is coming soon to food banks and food distribution sites across Washington, which have faced serious shortages since Congress eliminated federal support for emergency food purchases last year.

In June, the state's food bank system will begin receiving food stocks purchased with $2.5 million in state funds authorized by the 1996 Legislature to replace a portion of the funding previously provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Gov. Mike Lowry, who asked the Legislature to provide stop-gap funding for the state's food-bank system, said food distributed through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) will go a long way toward addressing food shortages resulting from federal cutbacks.

"Since the federal cutback took effect, many of the state's 155 food banks have had to turn away hungry people, and all 164 other food distribution sites have closed down their operations," Lowry said. "This new food distribution will help meet emergency needs for food throughout the state."

Food distribution through TEFAP is coordinated by the state Department of General Administration, which has solicited bids and selected vendors to provide $833,000 worth of food in June and July. Orders have been placed for more than 34,000 pounds of peanut butter, 42,000 pounds of tuna, 43,000 pounds of peas, 43,000 pounds of pancake mix, 37,000 pounds of pasta and 42,000 pounds of powdered milk, among many other foods.

The food will be delivered to the state's 22 regional centers for distribution among individual food banks and distribution sites.

The Department of General Administration will keep track of how many people are served by food distributed through TEFAP and will examine options for continuing to make nutritional food available to low-income individuals if Congress does not provide support for the program next year.

Lowry noted that President Clinton's budget proposal for Federal Fiscal Year 1997 would restore federal funding for the program, but that congressional approval of that plan is by no means assured. In Federal Fiscal Year 1995, before the federal cutback took effect, the state's food bank network received 1.8 million pounds of USDA food per year and served approximately 142,000 individuals per month.


For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.