Food Assistance 101

The Basics


Food Bank

A food bank is an organization that collects, stores, and distributes donated food on a large scale. Most food banks do not distribute food directly to individuals, but rather to member organizations such as shelters, food pantries, faith-based organizations and schools. You can think of a food bank as a central hub that connects and distributes food to smaller hunger-relief agencies across the state.

Food Desert

As defined by the USDA, food deserts are urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.

Food Insecurity

Put simply, food insecurity is another word for hunger. The term food insecurity was born out of the understanding that hunger is not a black and white state, but rather a spectrum. The Maryland Food Bank defines food insecurity as: the inability to consistently access nutritious food.

Understanding State Food Assistance


The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

CACFP provides nutritious meals and snacks to children and adults in designated child and adult care centers. Supper Clubs help distribute food to support the CACFP program.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
CACFP yes yes    

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

CSFP provides food assistance for low-income seniors with a monthly package of healthy USDA commodities. CSFP funding supports My Groceries To Go!

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
CSFP   yes yes yes

DSS Emergency Food Distribution Program (DSS)

The DSS Emergency Food Distribution program is an innovative partnership between the Maryland Food Bank and the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (BCDSS) to provide emergency assistance to Baltimore City residents in need.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
DSS yes yes yes  

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

NSLP provides nutritionally balanced lunch to qualified children each school day.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
NSLP yes yes    

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

TEFAP provides USDA commodities to families in need of short-term hunger relief through emergency food providers like food banks.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
TEFAP yes yes yes yes

The School Breakfast Program (SBP)

SBP provides nutritionally balanced breakfast to qualified children each school day.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
SBP yes yes    

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

SFSP provides free meals and snacks to low-income children during the summer months. Summer Clubs are Maryland Food Bank’s distribution points for the SFSP.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
SFSP yes yes    

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP provides timely, targeted, and temporary benefits to low-income Americans to buy groceries.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
SNAP yes yes yes  

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC provides nutritious foods and nutrition education for low-income, at risk women, infants.

Acronym Child Hunger Fostering Nutrition Senior Hunger Supplying Food Banks
WIC yes yes    
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