Karen works for a local nonprofit that distributes emergency food supplies to families who are struggling to make ends meet. It seems that there is never enough funding to support all the work they do, but thanks to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, the food bank is able to access national funding each year.
The middle class in the United States has shrunk consistently over the past half-century. Until 2000, the reason was primarily because more Americans moved up the income ladder. But since then, the reason has shifted: there is a greater share of households on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Many households in poverty live paycheck-to-paycheck, and are always on the cusp of an emergency. When one event
occurs, such as a car breaking down or an illness, families are often forced to make difficult choices between paying for food, housing and health care costs.
What are EFSP funds used for?
- 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
- equipment necessary to feed or shelter people, up to a $300 limit per item
The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), a federally funded effort, was established in 1983 in partnership with local United Ways. The legislation created a national board, chaired by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with representatives from the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army, and United Way Worldwide. Local boards emulate the agency membership of the national board to ensure the decision-making for funding local agency programs has a broad base of community perspective. Each year Weld County receives around $100,000 for distribution through EFSP.
At the beginning of each funding phase, United Way of Weld County convenes the local board that includes representatives of participating agencies and other community leaders. A request for proposal is developed, released, and promoted to the public. Following proposal receipt and reading, the local board reconvenes to hear applying agency presentations. After applying organizations leave the room, board volunteers then decide which agencies to fund and the amounts. Upon approval from the national board, funds are distributed to local recipient organizations.
“With more people moving to Weld County and the supply of housing not keeping up, increasing rents create household instability, especially for low wage earners and older adults on fixed incomes. Our hard working nonprofits use EFSP funds to support these families.”Melanie Woolman, Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of Weld County