Tennessee Food Banks Weather Fluctuations in Bonus Food Supplies

Oct 24, 2012

Tennessee food banks are weathering a dip in some food supplies as demand remains high. Terry Minton is the commodity administrator for the state Department of Agriculture. Minton says one part of food bank supplies, USDA surplus food, is a bonus that fluctuates with the season and market demand.

“Right now what we’re seeing is a lull in the orders. We’re picking up a little bit on the foods that have been offered to us. But basically, what our agencies and our food banks are facing right now is less food and more needy people," she said.

According to statistics from non-profit organization Feeding America, between 15 and 21 percent of people in northwest Tennessee have trouble buying food some or all of the time. 

Mid-South Food Bank Communications Director Marcia Wells says her agency partners with two food pantries in Obion County. Wells says Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church serves 570 households in the county, and Reel Foot Rural Ministries serves 149 households. She adds Pilgrim Rest also gets a monthly visit from Mid-South's mobile pantry.

Minton says the current outlook for food bank funding shows increased spending in 2013.

Minton says that for program year 2012 which includes food shipments still coming in through November, Tennessee is receiving more pounds and value than in program year 2011. 

"And we actually appear to be on track for program year 2013 to receive food valued higher than program year 2012," she said.  "However, until that activity is completed, we won’t know if the number of pounds will be comparable."

The Emergency Food Assistance Program :

TEFAP program year 2011
Entitlement orders $4.8M (6.4M lbs)
Bonus orders $1.8M (2.1M lbs)

TEFAP program year 2012
Entitlement orders $5.1M (7.6M lbs)
Bonus orders $3.6M (4.1M lbs)

TEFAP program year 2013 (so far)
Entitlement orders $1.4M  (1.8M lbs)
A total of $5.1M in entitlement expected orders before the program year ends.
Bonus orders $4.8M (6.4M lbs)