Using TANF Emergency Funds to Provide Food Assistance to Struggling Families
 Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 , U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, November 2009.
 Hunger in America 2010 , http://feedingamerica.org/faces-of-hunger/hunger-in-america-2010/hunger-report-2010.aspx .
 Under the TANF MOE requirement, states receiving federal TANF block grant funds must continue to spend, in state or third-party dollars, at least 80 percent (75 percent for years in which a state meets the TANF work participation rate) of the amount they spent on AFDC and related work programs prior to the 1996 welfare law. States that fail to meet this maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirement face a fiscal penalty.
 Help with food on an ongoing (rather than short-term, non-recurrent) basis could also qualify as “basic assistance” and thus could be reimbursed through the TANF Emergency Fund as well. However, receipt of “basic assistance” triggers other TANF consequences, such as time limits, assignment of child support, and work participation rate requirements. Therefore, it would not make sense to provide ongoing food help to families that are not otherwise receiving ongoing cash assistance from the state’s TANF program. This report focuses on ways to serve a broad group of families, including those not otherwise receiving TANF cash assistance.
 See documents from Ventura County at http://emergencycontingencyfunds.wikispaces.com/file/view/Ventura+Food+Box2.pdf/136123595/Ventura%20Food%20Box2.pdf and http://emergencycontingencyfunds.wikispaces.com/file/view/Ventura+Food+Box1.pdf/136109749/Ventura%20Food%20Box1.pdf .
 Some but not all immigrants are “eligible families.” Certain issues arise in providing emergency food assistance to non-citizen legal immigrants. States can use MOE funds for non-citizen legal immigrants even if those who cannot receive federal TANF funds. (With some exceptions, federal TANF funds can be spent only on legal immigrants who are also considered “qualified” under federal TANF law and have been in the country for five years.) Therefore, a state (or third party) may provide emergency food assistance to legal immigrants regardless of their date of entry if it has flexibility to move funds around: it must use non-TANF state or third-party funds to provide food to these immigrants, claim the spending as MOE, and then use the Emergency Funds received as a result for whatever purpose the general revenues were originally intended.
States cannot use TANF or MOE funds to serve undocumented immigrants, and in claiming TANF Emergency Funds for immigrant families, food banks may need to verify that the family falls within legal status. Food banks should not seek to identify families as illegal immigrants; they simply cannot claim TANF Emergency Funds for those that cannot be claimed as within eligible status.
 States can define the age of a “child” for the purposes of short-term, non-recurrent benefits, and HHS has indicated that it will consider young adults up to age 24 living with their families as a reasonable state choice for definition of child for both TANF and MOE expenditures. In addition, states could opt to use TANF (but not MOE) funds for a low-income young adult who has no children and is not living with his or her parents; while this involves some complexity, it is an option if there is flexibility to move funds around. For MOE, a child must live with his or her family.
 States cannot cover the remaining 20 percent with funds originating from a federal program other than TANF or with spending that is a condition of eligibility or match for a federal program other than TANF.
 HHS has stated that expenditures from entities other than the state (that is, third parties) can count as state expenditures for the purpose of the TANF MOE requirement. (See 45 CFR 263.2(e) and Policy Announcement, TANF-ACF-PA-2004-01, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/policy/pa-ofa/2004/pa200401.htm .)
 Volunteer time can be translated into an amount of MOE by using the comparable salary for the type of work. For general volunteers for whom there is not a comparable position to derive the value of the donated time, the Office of Management and Budget has recognized (in other contexts) attributing a donated value of $20.25 an hour.
 States may count only the portion of these costs that is attributable to food provided to TANF-eligible families for short-term, non-recurrent benefits towards MOE spending for purposes of TANF Emergency Fund reimbursement.
 If the third-party spending that supported the program in the base year is not part of the TANF or MOE spending being claimed for Emergency Fund reimbursement, it would not be necessary to compare the base-year spending from this source. This would require that there be other increased TANF or MOE spending to cover the 20 percent that is not reimbursed, such as the state or county contributing funding that had not contributed in the past or that increased from past contributions.
 Hunger in America 2010 provides comprehensive and statistically valid data on the national charitable response to hunger and the number of people served by food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in the Feeding America network. The report is based on independent research conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR). Feeding America contracted with MPR to work with 185 network members that agreed to collect data on clients’ socio-demographic characteristics, including income and employment, benefits from SNAP and other federal or private programs, frequency of visits to emergency feeding sites, and satisfaction with local access to emergency food assistance. The survey included information on frequency of use and can provide a basis for an estimate of what share of the food bank users were needy families with children using the food bank for a short-term crisis or episode of need. Not all of the survey detail is included in the published report but it can be made available; for further information, contact Shannon Robins at Feeding America.
 As a practical matter, a state generally will only want to choose to add new types of short-term non-recurrent benefits in its application for TANF Emergency Funds when there is an increase in the spending for the specific program, such as a food bank extra benefit. Including a program that does not have increased spending will bring down the overall reimbursement and a state will not be able to guarantee the participating third-parties a full 80 percent reimbursement unless it contributes some funds.
If a state has made a substantial cut in, for example, its TANF-funded Emergency Assistance program, it cannot choose to exclude this program and would only receive reimbursement for 80 percent of the overall increase in short-term non-current benefits after this reduction is back-filled. However, a state could choose not to include a program that has not previously been TANF or MOE-funded, such as a domestic violence shelter, if the program actually reduced services (despite need) since the base year because of loss of grant or donor funding due to the economic downturn.
 See http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/policy/colleague-ltr/2010_TANF-SFSP_Dear_Colleague.html and additional HHS guidance under the TANF FAQ on Nutritional Supplement (about services that can be provided at SFSP sites and reimbursed through the TANF Emergency Fund) at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/recovery/tanf-faq.htm#_nutritional_supplement and Summer Food Service Program and TANF Eligibility at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/recovery/tanf-faq.htm#_summer_food.
 See TANF FAQ on Summer Food Service Program and TANF Eligibility at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/recovery/tanf-faq.htm#_summer_food .
 In some circumstances, supervision and training of subsidized employees can count as in-kind MOE for up to 25 percent of the wage costs; however, the salary of those supervising and training would need to come from non-federal funds and not from either USDA Summer Food Service Program or TANF Emergency Funds.
 For example, the food bank could use other funds to buy the extra food and be reimbursed with the TANF Emergency Fund when the state receives it. Or, the state could fund the food bank with TANF or MOE and then be reimbursed when it receives the TANF Emergency Funds from HHS.
 HHS Questions and Answers on ARRA, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/recovery/tanf-faq.htm#_advance_expenditure .