EFSP Funds Help Nonprofits Meet Local Needs

The Itasca area’s nonprofit network plays a vital role in meeting the food and shelter needs of Itasca-area families. Every day, nonprofit organizations provide nutritious food, safe shelter, and a path toward safety and stability for people in the region. 

More than $55,000 in federal funds recently went out to these nonprofits through the Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP). Created in 1983, the EFSP provides supplementary funding to service agencies that operate critical needs and crisis prevention services. Itasca County received funds through Phase 39 (FY21) of the program, as well as through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA-R). Local allocations are decided by a Local Board made up of representatives from the social service sector. 

Community Cafe, Grace House of Itasca County, and United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) are the organizations that applied for and received EFSP funds. A portion of the funds awarded support UWNEMN’s Buddy Backpacks initiative, which provides students attending Keewatin Elementary and Nashwauk-Keewatin High School with meals on weekends and school holidays. Community Cafe’s allocation helps make it possible for the organization to serve no-cost meals to anyone who needs them. 

Grace House’s grant helps cover some of the shelter’s operating costs, which have increased with inflation, making it more expensive to provide meals for guests. EFSP funds also support guests in finding stable long-term housing, providing some assistance with rent and other housing costs in the months after guests exit the shelter. 

United Way of 1000 Lakes is the local administrator of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program in Itasca County. This is part of the organization’s Safety Net focus area, which ensures that help is available for families in crisis, one of four pillars of United Way’s impact strategy. As Local Administrator, United Way brings together the Local Board and facilitates the distribution of funds.

“The Emergency Food and Shelter Program is just one thread of the safety net that ensures a strong support network for families and individuals in our community,” says United Way Executive Director Kimberly Brink Smith. “Programs that provide food and safe shelter are vital in providing a foundation for families to build financial stability in the long-term.”

For more information on services available to you and those you know, contact First Call / 211 by dialing 2-1-1 on your phone. Organizations interested in future funding opportunities can learn more and subscribe to notifications at uwlakes.org/nonprofit-resources.

Are you interested in making decisions to help people in our community? Local leaders are invited to join the EFSP Local Board. Call 218-999-7570 or email info@uwlakes.org to learn more.