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Central Florida advocates pushing for lawmakers to increase funding to U.S. Farm Bill

ORLANDO, Fla. — As grocery prices continue to rise, food distribution partners are calling on lawmakers to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that supports food banks and the people they serve.

It’s the center piece federal legislation for food and farming. It impacts access to nutritious food for the millions of people in the United States facing hunger.

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The Farm Bill provides funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, TEFAP.

“About 10-million of the 76-million meals we distributed last year were straight from the TEFAP program,” Stephanie Palacios, the Director of Advocacy and Government Relations for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, said.

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In the last 3 years, funding for that program has gone down.

Second Harvest Food Bank of CFL said without the supplemental TEFAP benefits, they are on the hook to buy extra food.

“To fill in that gap Second Harvest Food Bank is having to spend over $3 million in just purchasing food for that TEFAP swath,” Palacios said.

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Mel Martin is a volunteer for the South Orlando SDA Church. Their food pantry receives food through the TEFAP program and feeds about 100 families every week.

“We’re just thankful that it’s here to provide the food that we need that we can then distribute to the families who are in need out there,” Martin said.

The church’s pick up isn’t completely covered by TEFAP. They have to shell out dollars of their own.

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This is why advocates are calling on lawmakers to increase the funding to help end hunger for everyone.

“Different needs; young families, elderly people, young children, the need is great,” Martin said.

The 2018 Farm Bill has been extended through September. There is hope a full 2024 Farm Bill will be put in place within the next few months.

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