Counties receive food, shelter money for homeless and hungry

BY LENA MITCHELL

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

Groups across the state that strive to fill the needs of hungry people and people without a permanent home are beginning to allocate 2005 funds to agencies providing services to those in need.

More than $1.36 million came to Mississippi from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through a federal appropriation of more than $153 million to supplement food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs for people with non-disaster related emergencies.

Each county that receives funds is required to have in place an Emergency Food and Shelter Board, which in turn distributes the money through agencies like American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, United Way and other nonprofits.

“The money is very specific and it has to go to agencies that provide emergency food, financial assistance for rent and utilities. That limits the agencies that can apply,” said Donna Long, chairman of Lafayette County's board and executive director of United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County.

For Lafayette County, which received $13,157 this year, the same agencies usually receive the funds for distribution.

The Domestic Violence Project has received funding primarily for food; the local food pantry that provides emergency food staples and the Interfaith Compassion Ministry, a primary source for helping people with rent and utility assistance.

“The Salvation Army also would qualify, but they have never applied,” she said.

Lee divides funds

There were no new applicants for the $37,588 that Lee County received, said Melinda Tidwell, executive director of United Way of Northeast Mississippi.

“We have already met and allocated our money,” Tidwell said. “Part of that will go to the Salvation Army, part to LIFT Inc., part to SAFE Inc., the Faith Food Pantry in Nettleton and Meals on Wheels.”

The agencies in Prentiss County likely to be funded again with the county's allocation of $14,455 are the Red Cross and Community Services, said David Senter, chairman of the Prentiss County EFS Board.

“We had a couple of new agencies this year, but the board decided to leave the agencies handling the funds the same,” said Betsy Whitehurst, executive director of United Way of Corinth and Alcorn County: Corinth Welfare Association for utility help; The Salvation Army for rental assistance; Alcorn County Human Resource Agency for Meals on Wheels and Amen Food Pantry for emergency food for families.

Alcorn County received $18,182 in FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter funds for 2005.

The Starkville mayor's office coordinates distribution of Oktibbeha County's EFS money, and the mayor serves as chairman of the board, said Larry King, executive director of United Way of North Central Mississippi.

The county received $15,603 this year. Agencies usually applying for the money include Helping Hands; The Salvation Army and sometimes Prairie Opportunity, which helps people who need assistance with rent, food and utility bills, King said.

Contact Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com