Emergency Food and Shelter Program

ABOUT THE EMERGENCY FOOD AND SHELTER PROGRAM

The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program was created in 1983 to supplement the work of local social service organizations within the United States, both private and governmental, to help people in need of emergency assistance. This collaborative effort between the private and public sectors has provided over $3.3 billion in Federal funds during its 26-year history.

During its 25 years of operation, the program disbursed over $3.1 billion to over 12,000 local providers in more than 2,500 counties and cities.  Each year the Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) Program provides supplemental funding to over 10,000 agencies in more than 2,600 communities across the country.

The program is governed by a national board composed of representatives of the American Red Cross; Catholic Charities, USA; United Jewish Communities; The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.; The Salvation Army; and United Way of America. The Board is chaired by a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The program's objectives are:

  • to allocate funds to the neediest areas,
  • to ensure fast response,
  • to foster public/private sector cooperation,
  • to ensure local decision making, and
  • to maintain minimal, but accountable, reporting.

HOW IS THE PROGRAM GOVERNED LOCALLY?

Locally, the program is a model of public-private cooperation. Each civil jurisdiction (a county or city) funded by the program must constitute a local board. The board must be composed of representatives of the same organizations as those on the National Board, with a local government official replacing the FEMA representative. The Local Board members elect their chair. Local boards may also have additional members, and, since 1993, local boards have been required to include a homeless or formerly homeless person as a member.

HOW IS FUNDING FOR JURISDICTIONS DETERMINED?

The National Board uses a formula involving population, poverty, and unemployment data to determine the eligibility of a civil jurisdiction. There is no national application process. Poverty data is from the 2000 decennial census (source: U.S. Bureau of the Census); unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Poverty figures from the 2000 census were used in Phase 28. For fiscal year 2010 funding, jurisdictions qualify for funding if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Number of unemployed: 13,000+ with a 7.8% rate of unemployment
  • Number of unemployed: 300-12,999 with a 9.8% rate of unemployment
  • Number of unemployed: 300 or more with an 11.0% rate of poverty

The actual award amounts are determined by dividing the available funds by the number of unemployed persons within each jurisdiction that qualifies. Jurisidictions that do not qualify under the formula and thus do not receive funding directly from the National Board may receive funds through the state set-aside process, and jurisdictions that do qualify may receive additional funding the same way.

HOW ARE EMERGENCY FOOD & SHELTER PROGRAM FUNDS USED?

Program funds are used to provide the following, as determined by the Local Board in funded jurisdictions:

  • Food, in the form of served meals or groceries.
  • Lodging in a mass shelter or hotel.
  • One month's rent or mortgage payment.
  • One month's utility bill.
  • Minimal repairs to allow a mass feeding or sheltering facility to function during the program year.
  • Equipment necessary to feed or shelter people, up to a $300 limit per item

Once an award is made by either the National Board or a state set-aside committee, local boards decide which agencies are to receive funds, and then those agencies are paid directly by the National Board. Within a jurisdiction, no more than 2% of the entire award may be used for administrative costs by the local board and agencies combined. For specific information about the Emergency Food and Shelter Program in your community, see Your Community.

HOW DOES MY ORGANIZATION APPLY?

When a jurisdiction is funded, the Local Board must advertise the availability of funds. Local organizations, whether nonprofit or governmental, may apply. The Local Board is responsible for considering all applications, and for determining which organizations will receive funds. The Local Board also determines which services are funded.

Contact the National Board staff for specific local contacts.

WHAT DOCUMENTATION FOR EXPENDITURES IS REQUIRED?

All funded agencies must retain invoices and canceled checks for all program expenditures. Agencies funded for the first time under the program, and those that have had previous compliance problems, must submit their documentation to the National Board. To help ensure that agencies maintain National Board standards of accountability, National Board staff routinely conduct on-site reviews of agency programs and financial documentation. In addition, any agency may be asked to submit its documentation to the National Board at any time. For more information about the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, contact the program's staff at (703) 706-9660.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

You can visit the United Way EFSP website by going here: http://www.efsp.unitedway.org/

 


 

To obtain a copy of the EFSP Funding Application, please contact the United Way office at 618-242-8000 or by email at uwjc@mvn.net.

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