The holiday season can be tough on many families who are already struggling to survive these difficult economic times. Often times these families are forced to miss one or more meals throughout the day due to the high cost of food. There are programs out there that can help feed families in need.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), provides low-income individuals and households with surplus commodities donated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition, the program administers privately donated products. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) works with food banks in each county to serve as part of the distribution network.
Food Banks throughout the state provide individuals and communitybased organizations with food in a coordinated effort, running with the assistance of volunteers and community involvement. While some counties have more than one Food Bank to serve residents, there are some counties that have no Food Banks and rely on those in neighboring counties. Most of the time, as long as someone is willing to wait in line for food at a food bank, then they are able to receive food at no cost.
There are, however, some programs administered by food banks that require qualification. Generally, to qualify recipients must meet the eligibility criteria in accordance with USDA regulations, including that they reside in the geographical area being served. The recipient may be asked to present evidence that they live in the service area, such as a Driver’s License. However, if documented proof of residency cannot be supplied, food may not be denied to the recipient if they agree to sign an EFAP Certification of Eligibility form (EFA-7).