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FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program Provides Resources to Help Families Find Food, Shelter and Safety

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Maria’s life changed forever. Food, shelter, and a safe home had never been things she had to worry about, but suddenly these problems were front and center in her life – and the lives of her five children. Maria had been working her entire life and had been a leader in her community, but the pandemic turned all that upside down. She lost her job; her home life became more stressful, and she was suddenly dealing with domestic violence.

This is when Maria and her children sought refuge at one of the shelters in San Antonio. The shelter for survivors of domestic violence is managed by Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. and funded in part by FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program. For the past 39 years, the EFSP program has distributed more than $5.6 billion to over 14,000 organizations in more than 2,500 communities in the United States and its territories. It has assisted in providing an estimated 3.5 billion meals, 306.6 million nights of shelter, 7.4 million utility payments and 5.5 million rent/mortgage payments that helped families and individuals with food and housing insecurity.

The program helps to expand the incredible, ongoing work of local social service non-profit and governmental organizations. These organizations struggle to provide these services; the EFSP provides additional funds to continue to provide shelter, food and supportive services to individuals, families, and households in need.  All organizations who share the mission of helping provide these economic, non-disaster emergency needs can apply for funding from FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

Over the last 10 years, the shelter where Maria and her family sought refuge received more than $331,000 in EFSP funds, money that helped 199 men, women and children stay safe while rebuilding their lives.

Because of the local shelter supported by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Maria and her children are preparing to move on to an independent life. Maria has plans to start her own business. The resources the shelter and program provided helped her “see the light at the end of the tunnel and that community organizations care enough about you and can help.”

To learn how the Emergency Food and Shelter Program could make an impact in your community, read the FEMA fact sheet. For additional information visit the Emergency Food and Shelter Program website or email any inquiries to

In this story, Maria's name was changed to protect the privacy of those involved.