Below is a glossary of terms commonly used when discussing programs, causes and solutions surrounding poverty, hunger and homelessness.



Abject Poverty

The absence of enough resources (such as money) to secure basic life necessities and the absence of any two of the following eight basic needs:  food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education, information, access to services, (legal, social, and financial services).


ADC (Aid to Dependent Children)



After-School Snack Programs

This type of program provides nutritious snacks and meals to low-income children participating in after-school programs. These are administered by afterschool programs unable to prepare a meal and want to serve only healthy snacks.


Area Medium Income (AMI)

AMI is published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for every county and metropolitan area. It is the most common benchmark to determine eligibility for federal housing programs.

Households earning: between 120 and 80 percent AMI are considered “moderate-income: below 80 percent AMI, “low-income”; below 50 percent AMI, “very low-income” and below 30 percent AMI, “extremely low-income.”


Child and Adult Care Food Programs

This program improves the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families by providing healthy meals and snacks to children and adults (elderly people unable to care for themselves) in day care settings. Eligible participants include in-home providers, day care centers, afterschool care programs, nonresidential adult day care centers. or emergency shelters. See also After-School Snack Programs and Elderly Food Programs.


Chronically Homeless Person, HUD Definition  

As defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD, an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.  Definition includes families.


CoC  (Continuum Of Care) 

An approach that helps communities plan for and provide a full range of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing and service resources to address the various needs of homeless persons at the point in time that they need them. The approach is based on the understanding that homelessness is not caused merely by a lack of shelter, but involves a variety of underlying, unmet needs—physical, economic, and social. Designed to encourage localities to develop a coordinated and comprehensive long-term approach to homelessness, the Continuum of Care consolidates the planning, application, and reporting documents for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Shelter Plus Care, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single-Room Occupancy Dwellings (SRO) Program, and Supportive Housing Program.


Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

The CSFP works to improve the health of low-income children, mothers and elderly people 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 state. See TEFAP.



Person who has experienced homeless or homeless prevention services.   MACCH  embraces the concept “Not about us, without us.”


Continuum Of Care Organizations  

A consortium of homeless providers, governmental agencies, funders and other representatives which have joined to plan for and implement activities for the homeless.


Domestic Violence (DV)

A systemic pattern of abusive behaviors (psychological, sexual, physical, and/or economic) used by an individual to establish power and control over his/her partner. The abuser is able to maintain power and control through the fear and intimidation of his/her partner. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.


Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

A refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.


Nearly one in five filers qualifies for the credit.


Elderly Food Programs

These programs specifically target at-risk elderly people and include home-delivered meals and congregate meals programs which provide meals at central facilities in group settings. See Child and Adult Care Food Programs.


Emergency Food Program (EFP)

Emergency food programs (EFP’s) 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 differentiated from other programs where food is distributed, but not on an emergency basis, such as day care centers and group homes.


Federal Poverty Level

See Poverty Guideline.


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. A food bank is responsible for ensuring that all food and grocery products that it receives and distributes comply with industry and regulatory standards. These products are distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens, which provide the products directly to clients.


Food Desert

A food desert is an area where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. Food deserts are in rural as and urban areas and are most prevalent in low-socioeconomic minority communities. They are associated with a variety of diet-related health problems.


Food Insecurity

Is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging or other coping strategies). The limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods, including involuntarily cutting back on meals, food portions or not knowing the source of the next meal.


Food Pantry

A nonprofit organization (typically small in size), such as religious institutions or social service agencies, that receives donated food items and distributes them to hungry people for preparation at home. The amount of food distributed usually lasts a few days to a week depending on availability of food. By contrast, a soup kitchen prepares and serves meals to their clients. A food pantry will often receive its supply of food from both a food bank and food donated directly to the pantry.


Food Rescue

A food rescue program specializes in soliciting donations of leftover perishable food from restaurants, catering halls, and the like, and delivering this food immediately to emergency food programs. Unlike food banks which must deal with the logistics 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

A household is considered food-secure when access by all members of the house at all times 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).


Food Stamp Program



Generational Poverty

A person living in poverty for two or more generations.



Is a form of collecting leftover crops from fields after they have been harvested. This task has been moved to urban neighborhoods with families planting more than they need and donating it to a pantry. It is thought that ancient cultures used gleaning as an early form of a welfare system.



Homeless Management Information System    Data system called Service Point locally, required for HUD funded homeless service programs to use for data for program, CoC wide and for reports to HUD both by program and by CoC.  Goal is to use the data report for system improvement.



A person whose primary night-time residence is in a homeless shelter, a warming center, a domestic violence shelter, doubled up (couch surfing), or a place not meant for human habitation. 


Homelessness Prevention Services 

Activities or programs designed to prevent the incidence of homelessness, including, but not limited to:

  1. Short-term subsidies to defray rent and utility arrearages for families who have received eviction or utility termination notices
  2. Security deposits or first month’s rent to permit a homeless family to move into its own apartment
  3. Mediation programs for landlord-tenant disputes
  4. Legal services programs for the representation of indigent tenants in eviction proceedings
  5. Payments to prevent foreclosure on a home
  6. Other innovative programs and activities designed to prevent the incidence of homelessness


Homeless Person, HUD Definition

HUD defines homelessness using the following definition: A homeless person is someone who is living on the street or in an emergency shelter, or who would be living on the street or in an emergency shelter without HUD’s homelessness assistance. A person is considered homeless only when he/she resides in one of the places described below:

  1. In places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, on the street;
  2. In an emergency shelter;
  3. In transitional or supportive housing for homeless persons who originally came from the streets or emergency shelters;
  4. In any of the above places but is spending a short time (up to 30 consecutive days) in a hospital or other institution;
  5. Is being evicted within a week from a private dwelling unit and no subsequent residence has been identified and the person lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing or their housing has been condemned by housing officials and is no longer considered meant for human habitation;
  6. Is being discharged within a week from an institution in which the person has been a resident for more than 30 consecutive days and no subsequent residence has been identified and the person lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing; or
  7. Is fleeing a domestic violence housing situation and no subsequent residence has been identified and the person lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing.


Housing First

See Rapid Re-Housing



The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).



The discomfort, weakness, or pain caused by a chronic and inadequate nutritional intake due to low incomes. 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 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. Together and our food partner agencies like food pantries and soup kitchens can all be termed hunger relief organizations.


Kids Cafe

Kids Cafe is an after-school and summer meal program that provides nutritious snacks and meals to children ages 5-18 who are at risk for hunger. Kids Cafe programs often supplement food assistance with nutrition education activities as well as homework help, mentoring, and recreational opportunities.


Kids Connection is an expansion of Medicaid as health care coverage for qualified children who are without other health insurance and who do not qualify for Medicaid. Federally called the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), it provides the same services covered under Medicaid.



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.


McKinney-Vento Act 

The primary federal response targeted to assisting homeless individuals and families. The scope of the Act includes: outreach, emergency food and shelter, transitional and permanent housing, primary health care services, mental health, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, education, job training, and child care. There are nine titles under the McKinney-Vento Act that are administered by several different federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). McKinney-Vento Act Programs administered by HUD include:Emergency Shelter Grant Program, Supportive Housing Program, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation for Single-Room Occupancy Dwellings, Supplemental Assistance to Facilities to Assist the Homeless, and Single Family Property Disposition Initiative. Also see: Emergency Shelter Grants, Federal Emergency Management Administration, Shelter Plus Care, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation for Single-Room Occupancy Dwellings, and Supportive Housing Program.



Program which provides health care services to eligible elderly and disabled individuals and eligible low-income pregnant women, children and parents.


The terms Medicaid and Medicare are often used interchangeably however they are two separate programs.

Medicare is a federal program and Nebraska DHHS does not administer it.

Medicaid is administered through the State of Nebraska through DHHS


Mental Illness

A serious and persistent mental or emotional impairment that significantly limits a person’s ability to live independently.


Multiply Diagnosed 

This term generally refers to people who have chronic alcohol and/or other drug use problems and/or a serious mental illness and/or are HIV-positive. The terms “dually diagnosed” (co-occurring) and “triply diagnosed” are also used.



An abnormal accumulation of body fat that my 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.


Diseases related to obesity include various cancers, cardiovascular disease, other chronic diseases.


Permanent Housing 

Housing which is intended to be the tenant’s home for as long as they choose. In the supportive housing model, services are available to the tenant, but accepting services cannot be required of tenants or in any way impact their tenancy. Tenants of permanent housing sign legal lease documents.


Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)  

Long-term community-based housing and supportive services for homeless persons with disabilities. The intent of this type of supportive housing is to enable this special needs population to live as independently as possible in a permanent setting. The supportive services may be provided by the organization managing the housing or provided by other public or private service agencies. There is no definite length of stay.


Person With A Disability 

HUD’s Section 8 program defines a “person with a disability” as: a person who is determined to: 1) have a physical, mental, or emotional impairment that is expected to be of continued and indefinite duration, substantially impedes his or her ability to live independently, and is of such a nature that the ability could be improved by more suitable housing conditions; or 2) have a developmental disability, as defined in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.


Poverty Guideline

The guidelines are a simplification of the poverty thresholds for use for administrative purposes—for instance, determining financial eligibility for certain federal programs. They are adjusted for families of different sizes and are updated annually for price changes using the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.


Poverty Line

See Poverty Guideline.


Poverty Threshold

The thresholds are used mainly for statistical purposes—for instance, preparing the estimates of the number of Americans in poverty for each year’s report. It is updated annually for price changes using the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.


Rapid Re-Housing

Rapid Re-housing moves the homeless individual or household immediately from the streets or homeless shelters into their own apartments.  This is based on the concept that a homeless individual or household’s first and primary need is to obtain stable housing, and that other issues that may affect the household can and should be addressed once housing is obtained.


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.


Section 8

Rental assistance programs, under which the landlord reserves some or all of the units in a building for low-income tenants, in return for a Federal government guarantee to make up the difference between the tenant’s contribution and the rent specified in the owner’s contract with the government.



A temporary night-time residence for people that are homeless. Many shelters provide additional services including case management, access to medical care and treatment. Some shelters are population specific such as a Domestic Violence or Youth Shelter.  


Situational Poverty

A specific incident for a person that causes a severe loss of income such as death or divorce.


SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

This program was formerly known as Food Stamps and is designed to raise nutrition levels among low-income households. The federal program helps low-income people buy food. It’s not necessary to be receiving other public assistance in order to be eligible, but people don’t receive SNAP benefits automatically — they must apply and be found eligible.


Soup Kitchen

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


Subjective Poverty

Subjective poverty is an individual’s assessment of his or her own welfare. It challenges the mainstream view of poverty that it is an objective, money-metric and uniformly applicable concept. Instead, subjective poverty aims to capture the inherent subjectivity and multidimensionality of poverty.


Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

The SFSP provides reimbursements to schools, local government agencies and community-based organizations for meals and snacks served to children during the summer months, when school is out and lunches are not provided to hungry school-age students. This program is geared toward low-income children through a summer activity program.


Supportive Housing Program (SHP)

The Supportive Housing Program is designed to develop supportive housing and services that will allow homeless persons to live as independently as possible.


Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children



TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families)

Provides cash assistance to low-income families with children 18 or younger. TANF income is used to pay for family living expenses like rent, utilities, food, clothing, and other necessities. To be eligible for TANF cash assistance, a family must have net monthly income less than the program’s need and payment standards.


When both parents are absent, a different family member such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle may receive on behalf of the child. 


The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

Under TEFAP, commodity foods are made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through States. States provide the food to local 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. This program is not limited to children and the elderly (see Commodity Supplemental Food Program)


Transitional Housing (TH) 

Transitional housing is designed to provide housing and appropriate support services to homeless persons to facilitate movement to independent living within 24 months.



Includes all employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or an additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.



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



Anyone who has been discharged from the military generally after at least two years of service whether they served on active duty in a conflict or not.  



Voucher generally refers to a Section 8 Voucher provided by a local Housing Authority to a low or moderate income person but can also refer to an emergency voucher for short-term motel voucher for a homeless person.  The Section 8 Voucher issued by Housing Authority makes up, in payment directly to the landlord, the difference between what a low or moderate income tenant can pay for rent (roughly 30% of their income) and the Fair Market Rent (more or less an average rent). Most Section 8 Vouchers are “tenant-based” meaning that the voucher holder can shop for an apartment or house rental on the private market, while others are “project based”, meaning that they are not portable, but can only be used in a specific building.


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

A program for 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 sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Working poor

People that have one or more jobs but remain under the Poverty Threshold and/or qualify for assistance programs.







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