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Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Published: 12/30/2015
  1. What is the CSFP?
  2. How does the program operate?
  3. How much does CSFP cost?
  4. What are the requirements to get food through CSFP?
  5. Is this program available in every State?
  6. What foods are provided to participants?
  7. Who should I contact for more information about CSFP?


1. What is the CSFP? The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) works to improve the health of low-income elderly people at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, other new mothers up to one year postpartum, infants, and children up to age six also participate in the program, but are being phased out by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, the 2014 Farm Bill). As required by the 2014 Farm Bill, women, infants, and children who apply to participate in CSFP on February 7, 2014, or later cannot be certified to participate in the program. Such individuals may be eligible for other nutrition assistance programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

CSFP distributes food and administrative funds rather than the food vouchers that programs like WIC provide to participants. Eligible people cannot participate in both programs at the same time. CSFP food packages do not provide a complete diet, but rather are good sources of the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of the target population. CSFP is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is authorized under Section 4(a) of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973. Federal regulations covering CSFP can be found in 7 CFR, Parts 247 and 250. An average of more than 579,000 people each month participated in the program in fiscal year (FY) 2013. 

2. How does the program operate? USDA purchases food and makes it available to State agencies and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs), along with funds for administrative costs. State agencies that administer CSFP are typically departments of health, social services, education, or agriculture. State agencies store the food and distribute it to public and non-profit private local agencies. Local agencies determine the eligibility of applicants, distribute the foods, and provide nutrition education. Local agencies also provide referrals to other welfare, nutrition, and healthcare programs such as WIC, SNAP, Medicaid, and Medicare.

3. How much does CSFP cost? For FY 2014, Congress appropriated $202.682 million for CSFP. Annual appropriations may be supplemented by unspent funds carried over from the previous FY, if available. 

4. What are the requirements to get food through CSFP? CSFP participants must reside in one of the States or on one of the Indian reservations that participate in CSFP. States establish an income limit for the elderly that is at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. States also establish income limits for the remaining women, infants, and children on the program that are at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, but not below 100 percent of these guidelines. States may establish local residency requirements based on designated service areas (but may not require a minimum period of residency). States may also require that participants be at nutritional risk, as determined by a physician or by local agency staff.

5. Is this program available in every State? No. CSFP is authorized to operate only in the following States:  

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Oglala Sioux Reservation (SD)

Red Lake Reservation (MN)
South Carolina
South Dakota

For the address and telephone number of the State Distributing Agency that administers the program in any of the States listed above, click on the applicable State above.

6. What foods are provided to participants? Food packages include a variety of foods, such as nonfat dry and ultra high temperature fluid milk, juice, farina, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, peanut butter, dry beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. USDA maintains a List of Foods Available for CSFP.

7. Who should I contact for more information about CSFP? For more information about this program, we suggest that you contact your CSFP State Distributing Agency.