Food banks get funding opportunity | NevadaAppeal.com

Food banks get funding opportunity

Robyn Moormeister

Carson City and Lyon County food banks may get a little icing on the cake this year with federal money earmarked for emergency food and shelter.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday nearly $1 million is available for Nevada to help feed and shelter the state’s hungry and homeless people next year.

“I’ve got the application paperwork on my desk right now,” said Monte Fast, Friends In Service Helping’s director.

The funding is part of the $153 million authorized by Congress for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program to support social service agencies in more than 2,500 cities and counties across the country.

The money is used to supplement food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs for people with “nondisaster-related emergencies.”

Applicants include organizations like homeless shelters, food banks, churches and other nonprofits.

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Of the funds available to the state, $749,267 will go to Clark County, and $156,373 to Washoe County.

“We base those allocations on population and unemployment rates,” said FEMA spokeswoman Jan Baker.

Carson City has to fight it out for what’s left – $74,034 – with seven other smaller counties. It may end up with as little as $5,000, the exact amount received last year.

“That’s the way it is with these federal-funding streams,” Fast said.

He will apply for $10,000, but will have to split it between Carson City and Lyon County food banks.

Fast said federal-funding opportunities are nice when they come along, but FISH – the main provider of services for the homeless in Carson, Lyon and Douglas counties – would have to close its doors if it counted on federal handouts.

“It’s feast or famine, and we take what we can get.”

If the money is allocated in February, it will pay for roughly 3,500 meals, or 5-6 percent of FISH’s annual need, Fast said.

The bare essentials of nonperishable food items, like canned vegetables and dry rice, received by FISH’s Carson City, Dayton and Gardnerville food banks come from local private donations, but indulgences such fresh fruit, cheese and butter are usually provided by federal grants.

“It’s the icing on the cake,” Fish said, estimating approximately 10 percent of local homeless services get federal money.

The EFS funds were authorized by Congress in 1983, and are appropriated annually under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

People can donate nonperishable food items at the FISH headquarters, 138 E. Long St. For more information about local homeless services, call FISH at 882-3474.

Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at rmoormeister@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.