by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
The Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is done through the Department of Children and Families (DCF), provides surplus food to impoverished Kansas residents. The foods provided may include vegetables, fruit, juice, meat, cereal, peanut butter, nonfat dry milk, and pasta. The shipments occur once about every two months. Each shipment provides a minimum of four and a maximum of 10 foods per household. Not every town or city in Kansas has a local distribution center, but many do. One such city that participates is Fredonia. There, the food is distributed at the SKIL office by longtime SKIL Independent Living Coordinator (ILC) Ed Viers.
“The program is designed to be temporary,” explains Viers, “but the income guidelines are high enough that there are people with disabilities or who are working with large families who still qualify.”
Viers said the most recent shipment was plentiful in the way of fruit, which is rare. Although the DCF website lists (as is written in the above description) fruit as being routinely provided, this is a rarity. “We had apples and oranges,” says Viers. “Very high-quality stuff. They were Sunkist oranges and Fuji apples—some of the largest I’ve ever seen.”
According to Viers, the substantial shipment (which arrived by way of Chanute) contained way more food than the Fredonia office could possibly distribute before the fruit would perish. Because of this, Viers was able to obtain permission through DCF—something that has been rare in the past—to share the fruit with other food banks in the area. There was so much fresh fruit remaining after distribution that Viers and the SKIL office were able to provide other area food banks entire cases of apples and oranges.
As those of us with low incomes, which includes the vast majority of us with substantial disabilities, know, obtaining healthy foods like fresh fruits can be extremely difficult. Luckily for folks in the Fredonia area, Christmas came early this year.