KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — $1 million has been granted to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help improve the reach and resiliency of the state’s Emergency Food Assistance Program(TEFAP).

TEFAP is a federal program that supplements the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with free emergency food.

“We are committed to participating in work that supplies healthy food to all Tennesseans,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “A grant this size will make an enormous impact for Tennessee’s rural areas, benefitting populations who are underserved and the farmers who contribute to the safest, most nutritious food system in the world.”

Through this grant, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee will purchase equipment and support renovations at local distribution sites. In addition, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank and the Mid-South Food Bank will expand mobile pantries.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee will use the funds to increase distributions and establish new distribution sites in underserved areas. Finally, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee will conduct a needs assessment to better understand its current reach. They will also upgrade their coolers and freezers at distribution sites.

“We’ll be able to meet even more critical nutrition needs with this grant,” TDA’s Commodity Distribution Administrator Terry Minton said. “The funding will enable regional Tennessee food banks to tailor strategies to meet the needs of the areas they serve. They’ve been great partners with us for decades and their role is essential in our common goal of getting high-quality food to those who need it.”