Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)


The purpose of the EFSP is to supplement and expand existing food and shelter services available in local communities. It is a needs-based program and program dollars must not be ear-marked for particular clients.  Funding is meant to serve and benefit the entire community.  A complete copy of the annual program guidelines is available online at www.efsp.unitedway.org in the information section.

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program was established on March 24, 1983, with the signing of the "Jobs Stimulus Bill," Public Law 98-8. The EFSP was authorized under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77 signed into law on July 24, 1987, since renamed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and subsequently reauthorized under P.L. 100-628, signed into law on November 7, 1988).

The program's objectives are to:

  • Allocate funds to the neediest areas;
  • Ensure fast response;
  • Foster public/private sector cooperation;
  • Ensure local decision-making; and
  • Maintain minimal, but accountable, reporting.


A National Board, chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), consists of representatives of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide.

For more information about the EFSP National Board, please visit www.efsp.unitedway.org.


Each civil jurisdiction (a county or city) funded by the Emergency Food and Shelter program must constitute a local Emergency Food and Shelter 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 Buffalo & Erie County, the local Emergency Food and Shelter Board is chaired by the President of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. FeedMore of WNY acts as the fiscal conduit for agencies who secure food-related dollars and Belmont Housing Resources for WNY acts as the fiscal conduit for those agencies securing shelter dollars.



Who can apply?

Eligible applicants must:

  1. be nonprofit;
  2. be eligible to receive federal funds; 
  3. have an accounting system or an approved fiscal agent;
  4. conduct an independent annual audit if receiving $100,000 or more in EFSP funds/conduct an annual review if receiving $50,000 to $99,999 in EFSP funds;
  5. practice non-discrimination;
  6. have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and shelter services;
  7. have a voluntary board;
  8. have the capacity to either chargeback or expend funding during the jurisdiction’s selected spending period;
  9. must be able to completely and accurately obtain, retain and submit required documentation with reports; use DocuSign and online reporting.

Phases 39 and ARPA-R Award Amounts Available (updated 1/26/2022):

Phases 39 and ARPAR award amounts for qualifying jurisdictions and State Set-Aside Committees are available on the EFSP website. To access the allocation information, click Phase 39 Allocations or ARPAR Allocations.
To access other information related to Phases 39 and ARPA-R funding, click FY2021/ARPAR Funding.
Phase 39 ARPAR Preliminary Notice and Program Changes

Phase 39 and Phase ARPA-R Application (opens in Google Docs)

Phase 39 and Phase ARPA-R Key Program Dates 
Quick Reference Guides 


***Please continue to check the EFSP website for updates.