Hunger Glossary

Select a letter: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

After-School Snack Programs

This type of program provides nutritious snacks and meals to low-income children participating in after-school programs. (See Children’s Nutrition.)

Child and Adult Care Food Programs

This program group provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults (elderly unable to care for themselves) in day care settings. Many of Long Island Cares member agencies operate programs of this type.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

The CSFP works to improve the health of low-income children, mothers and elderly by supplementing their diets with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodity foods. USDA administers CSFP at the federal level, providing food and administrative funds to states, though not all states participate. New York does participate; see The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) below.

Elderly Food Programs

These programs specifically target at-risk elderly and include home-delivered meals and congregate meals programs, which provide meals at central facilities in group settings. Food relief organizations may be a primary source for the former, while the latter is likely to rely on the resources of a food bank like Long Island Cares.

Emergency Food Programs

Emergency food programs (EFPs) distribute donated food items to hungry people through avenues such as shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries. Such programs typically are run by private, nonprofit community organizations. An EFP is different from other programs where food is distributed, but not on an emergency basis, such as day care centers and group homes.

Feeding America (FA)

The national network of food banks and food rescue organizations and the major public advocate for hunger relief in the United States. Feeding America (FA) establishes and develops partnerships with major growers, processors, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and restaurants to encourage the donation of surplus food. FA then directs these donations to member organizations like Long Island Cares to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the network hunger relief efforts. FA has the prestige and influence needed to further the cause of hunger relief in America.

Food Bank

A charitable organization that solicits, receives, inventories, stores and distributes food and grocery products from various sources. A food bank may purchase food from funds provided by government agencies or charitable grants, or it may receive food donated by manufacturers, retailers or individuals. The food bank is responsible for ensuring all food and grocery products that it receives and distributes comply with industry and regulatory standards. These products are distributed to charitable human service agencies, such as food pantries, which provide the products directly to clients.

Food Insecurity

The limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods, including involuntarily cutting back on meals and food portions or not knowing the source of the next meal.

Food Pantry

A nonprofit organization typically small in size, such as a faith-based institution or social service agency, that receives donated food items and distributes them to hungry people for preparation at home. By contrast, a soup kitchen prepares and serves meals to its clients. A food pantry will often receive its supply of food from a food bank.

Food Rescue Organization

Different from a food bank that handles warehoused foods and grocery products, a food rescue organization specializes in soliciting donations of leftover perishable food from restaurants, catering halls and the like, delivering this food immediately to emergency food programs. Unlike food banks, which must deal with the logistic management of bulk inventories, a food rescue organization is likely to consist of a dedicated corps of volunteers who use their own vehicles to make food pickups and deliveries in the same day.

Food Security

Access to enough food for an active, healthy life. At a minimum, food security includes the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging or other coping strategies).


The discomfort, weakness or pain caused by a prolonged lack of food. In addition, many experts consider hunger to be chronically inadequate nutritional intake due to low incomes; that is, people do not have to experience discomfort, weakness or pain to be hungry from a nutritional perspective. The long-term effect of hunger is malnutrition.

Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP)

Better known by its acronym than its official title, HPNAP is administered by the New York State Department of Health and is dedicated to improving the health and nutrition status of people in need of food assistance in New York State. They do so by providing funding and other support to enhance the accessibility and availability of safe and nutritious food and food-related resources and by providing comprehensive nutrition and health education programs. HPNAP works in partnership with food banks operating in New York State.

Hunger Relief Organization

A general term that can be applied to any charitable organization whose mission involves dealing with the immediate effects and underlying causes of hunger. Feeding America, Long Island Cares and member agencies like food pantries and soup kitchens can all be termed hunger relief organizations.


A serious health impairment that results from substandard nutrient intake. Malnutrition may result from a lack of food, a chronic shortage of key nutrients, or impaired absorption and metabolism associated with chronic conditions or diseases.


An abnormal accumulation of body fat that may result in health impairments. Obesity is generally defined by the National Institutes of Health as having body weight that is more than 20% above the high range for ideal body weight. An obese person can experience malnutrition if obesity has resulted from dealing with food insecurity by relying on less expensive, less nutritious, high-calorie foods to stave off the sensation of hunger.

School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

These programs are federally assisted meal programs operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. They provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals to children each school day.

Summer Food Service Program

A nonprofit organization typically small in size, such as a faith-based institution or social service agency, that receives donated food items and provides prepared meals served in a local agency kitchen for hungry children. By contrast, a food pantry does not serve prepared meals. A soup kitchen will often receive its supply of food from a food bank.

Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating and referrals to health care. WIC is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), a subagency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Formerly referred to as the federal Food Stamp Program, SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger. It enables low-income families to buy nutritious food with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Recipients are able to buy eligible food items in authorized retail food stores. The program is the cornerstone of the federal food assistance programs and provides crucial support to low-income households and those making the transition from welfare to work. It has been criticized, however, for being underfunded, inadequate in terms of benefits offered, and ineffective in reaching and including all of the low-income people at risk of hunger. Hunger relief organizations like Long Island Cares help to make up the shortfall.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

Under TEFAP, commodity foods are made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to states. States provide the food to the local agencies they have selected, usually food banks, which, in turn, distribute the food to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public. Each state sets criteria for determining what households are eligible to receive food for home consumption. Income standards may, at the state’s discretion, be met through participation in other existing federal, state or local food, health or welfare programs for which eligibility is based on income.


The consequence of consuming food that is inadequate in quantity and/or nutritional quality. Chronic undernutrition can be considered to be the precursor of malnutrition.

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