Food banks, meal agencies get innovative with services
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Food pantries, meal delivery agencies serving the elderly and other groups are finding innovative ways to continue their valuable programs while still meeting coronavirus standards for health safety.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has streamlined the process of ensuring that food insecure Kentuckians can receive food through two federal programs with a minimum of human contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles announced today.
The two programs affected by the policy change are The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). TEFAP is a federally funded program that provides food to low-income individuals who meet income guidelines established by U.S. Department of Agriculture. CSFP is a federally funded program for low-income persons at least 60 years of age and above.
“We are moving heaven and earth to make sure that federal programs operated by the KDA protect our employees, food bank volunteers, and our hungry citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “Due to the streamlining of our programs, food banks can distribute TEFAP and CSFP foods via drive-through models.”
Previously, Kentuckians receiving food assistance had to physically enter the food pantries and complete paperwork. Under the new process, food pantries verify verbally that clients meet federal requirements, a food bank volunteer signs for the client as a proxy, and then a box of food is placed in the trunk of the vehicle. Another model being utilized is a mobile pantry from the food bank. Food banks are responsible for maintaining proper records to verify the program is not abused.
“I would like to applaud KDA Food Assistance Branch Manager Kevin Peach, who requested the changes in both TEFAP and CSFP,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Our employees are focused on how we can continue serving vulnerable populations while also protecting those volunteers and clients from the coronavirus pandemic.”
In addition to streamlining TEFAP and CSFP, the KDA announced last week that it sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging flexibility for school districts to serve meals and supporting the Kentucky Department of Education’s waiver request for non-congregate feeding amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The KDE received the waiver on March 14. An updated list of feeding sites is available at https://education.ky.gov/districts/SHS/Pages/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.aspx