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Tennessee Offers Programs to Boost Food Security

When people have food security, they have access to safe, nutritious food for a healthy and active life. Communities thrive when there is food security.

The State of Tennessee has a number of programs to help keep food on everyone’s table. Many moms, mothers-to-be, families and schoolchildren qualify for assistance under state or federal food programs.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, provides nutrition assistance to eligible children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families. SNAP helps supplement monthly food budgets of families with low income to buy the food they need to maintain good health. It also allows families to use more of their available income on critical living expenses.

See eligibility information and apply online.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program available in public and nonprofit private schools and home childcare facilities. The program provides healthy, balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

Federal guidelines determine the nutritional requirements, but local school food authorities decide what to serve and how to serve it.

There is also a companion School Breakfast Program operated by the Food and Nutrition Service. Schools that participate in the NSLP are also eligible to take part in the Afterschool Snack Program.

See eligibility information.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC is a federal program that provides additional food to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children until the age of 5. It is also called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program.



The program provides a combination of nutrition education, supplemental foods, breastfeeding support, and referrals for healthcare. WIC has proved to be effective in preventing and improving nutrition-related health problems.

See eligibility information.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Tennessee’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free nutritious meals to children 18 and younger in the summer when school is out. The program is designed to reach children who participate in free and reduced-price school lunch programs when those meals aren’t available. SFSP feeding sites are located throughout Tennessee to help meet this need. Sites can be found starting in May.


The program is looking for community partners for 2018. The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is taking applications for organizations to participate in this year’s SFSP program. Learn more about the program and the application process.

See eligibility information.

Additional Resources

2-1-1 is a free and confidential 24/7 service that helps people across the U.S. find resources in their local community that they need.

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is offered in July and August in Tennessee. The FMNP provides locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs to families with limited resources.

Hunger and Health’s Feeding America program provides food to people in need through a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.

Get information on eating healthy on a budget.

Learn more about household food insecurity in the U.S.

Learn about Family Resource Centers in Tennessee.

Kids Can Receive Free Summer Meals: