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. The Food Bank of WNY acts as the Fiscal Conduit for agencies who secure food-related dollars and the American Red Cross acts as the Fiscal Conduit for those agencies securing shelter dollars. 


EFSP Phase 36 Funding Update (as of 6/17/2019). 

Phase 36 award amounts for qualifying jurisdictions and State Set-Aside Committees have been posted on the homepage of the EFSP website, efsp.unitedway.org. To view the document, please click on Phase 36 Awards. Phase 36 award materials for Local Boards and LRO's are also available via the EFSP website.

Please continue to check the EFSP website for updates.

Phase 36 Key Changes Document

Phase 35 Manual

Phase 36 Application

Phase 36 Deadlines