The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP) is a Federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and has been entrusted through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (PL 100-77) “to supplement and expand ongoing efforts to provide shelter, food and supportive services” for hungry and homeless people across the nation.
A National Board, chaired by FEMA, with representatives from American Red Cross; Catholic Charities USA; National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.; The Salvation Army; United Jewish Communities; and, United Way of America, governs the EFSP. United Way of America serves as Secretariat and fiscal agent to the National Board.
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
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 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance 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 a $300 limit per item.