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Warren County receives federal food and shelter program funds

United Way of West Central Mississippi will be the beneficiary of almost $60,000 in federal emergency shelter and food money to help the homeless and provide food for those in need.

The money is part of $3.6 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to Mississippi to assist nonprofits helping residents who are experiencing hunger and homelessness.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) announced the allocation Tuesday.

The federal money is a combination of $1.39 million in fiscal 2019 FEMA emergency food and shelter funds and $2.21 million in CARES money.

United Way of West Central Mississippi will receive a total of $59,816 — $24,659 in fiscal 2019 funds and $35,157 in CARES money.

“This funding supports local organizations helping Mississippi’s hungry and homeless during the coronavirus pandemic and other disasters,” FEMA Regional Administrator Gracia Szczech said. “It can supplement programs offering meals, groceries or food boxes, residential shelters, rent payments or utilities.”

United Way executive director Michele Connelly said she has not been notified about the money, but said the agency has participated in the program in the past.

“EFSP is not something new,” she said. “It is something they have a different phase every year.”

She said federal officials contact United Ways across the nation to tell them how much money each county will receive from the program.

Each United Way, Connelly said, finds a nonprofit organization in the community that is willing to distribute the money and keep up with the records that are sent back to EFSP Program officials to verify the money was properly spent. She said the program’s regulations on how the money is spent are very strict.

Getting the notification United Way is getting the money, she said, is the first hurdle. The second is finding the nonprofit.

“There is much you have to do in order to prepare for the money,” she said. “There is an EFSP local board you have to put together, documents you have to supply. There is an agency you must have ready to spend the money. There’s definitely a process to follow.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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