The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is a Federal program that was established on March 24, 1983, with the signing of the "Jobs Stimulus Bill," This legislation created a National Board, chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that consisted of representatives of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ, The Salvation Army and United The EFSP was authorized under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance and was signed into law on July 24, 1987. The program's objectives are:
  • To allocate funds to the neediest areas
  • To ensure fast response
  • To foster public-private sector partnerships
  • To ensure local decision-making
  • To maintain minimal, but accountable, reporting
Since funds are initially distributed to jurisdictions based on either a National Board formula or recommendations from State Set-Aside Committees, there is no application process for jurisdictions. All jurisdictions are considered within the National Board formula and all jurisdictions in an individual State may be considered by the State Set-Aside Committee for either initial or additional funds If the jurisdiction had previously been selected by the National At the local level, following award notification by the National Board to the jurisdiction, a Local Board is formed. The Local Board then advertises the availability of the funds to local nonprofit agencies and governments. The Local Board must conduct a local application process for agencies to apply for funding. The Local Board selects which local nonprofit and governmental organizations are to receive funding.

Local FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Boards

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. In jurisdictions where affiliates of National Board agencies do not exist, other appropriate representatives should be invited to sit on the Local Board. Jurisdictions that are located within or encompass a Federally-recognized Native American reservation must have a Native American representative on the Local Board. Each Local Board is required to include a homeless person, a formerly homeless person, or former recipient of program services on the Local Board. Additionally, the National Board encourages that organizations representing or serving the special emphasis groups named in the HEARTH Act be included on Local Boards. These groups include the elderly, families with children, veterans, and the physically and mentally disabled.

Program funds are used to provide the following services, as determined by the Local Board in each funded jurisdiction:
  • Food, in the form of served meals or groceries
  • Lodging in a mass shelter or hotel
  • One month's rent, mortgage, and/or utility bill payment
  • Transportation costs associated with the provision of food or shelter
  • Minimal repairs to mass feeding or sheltering facilities for building code violations or for handicapped accessibility
  • Supplies and equipment necessary to feed or shelter people up to $300.00 per item.

Long Term Impact

Over the years, EFSP has distributed $3.8 billion to over 14,000 human service agencies in more than 2,500 communities across the country.  For more information/funding, please click on the link to the homepage: www.efsp.unitedway.org.

EFSP Links