Emergency Activities

USAID leads international food assistance efforts within the U.S. Government. For more than 60 years, USAID has brought hope and nourishment to the hungry corners of the world, saving lives, reducing suffering and supporting the early recovery of people affected by conflict and natural disaster emergencies, including refugees. During times of crisis when people face food insecurity or even the threat of starvation, USAID provides food assistance to the most vulnerable in the form of food, cash transfers or food vouchers. To assess and determine appropriate emergency food assistance responses, USAID and partners use a standardized USAID Modality Decision Tool for Humanitarian Assistance.

Food assistance often plays a key role in USAID's responses to crises around the globe, and in many instances goes hand-in-hand with non-food assistance such as shelter and water. To learn more about the role of food assistance in USAID's emergency response, visit Working in Crises and Conflict.

USAID provides emergency food assistance in several ways:

Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP)

USAID receives emergency food assistance resources through the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, authorized in the Foreign Assistance Act. IDA allows USAID to address food security emergencies through approaches that strengthen existing and functional local markets by purchasing food locally or from nearby countries and distributing to those most in need, or providing cash transfers for food and food vouchers so people can buy food of their choosing at local markets.

Title II

Title II of the Food for Peace Act primarily provides U.S. food to those suffering from hunger or starvation. Title II food commodities are grown in the United States by U.S. farmers and sent overseas to feed vulnerable populations in the poorest corners of the world.

The Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT)

The Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT) is a special authority in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) that allows USAID to respond to unanticipated food crises abroad, when other Title II resources are not available.

Essential Complementary Activities

Through both Title II and EFSP, essential complementary activities enhance the overall effectiveness and impact of emergency food assistance described above, and contribute to the stabilization of household/community availability of, access to, and utilization of nutritious foods. These include, but are not limited to, prevention and/or treatment of acute malnutrition; agriculture and food security; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); capacity-building support; gender equity; youth empowerment; and disaster risk reduction.

Emergency Activity Application Guidance

Related Guidance

View all Food for Peace announcements of or modifications to Food for Peace policies and procedures in the Food for Peace Information Bulletins

Related Resources

Last updated: March 22, 2019

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