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FEMA to send $54,017 to help provide food, shelter in Hall
Jackson, Habersham, Lumpkin and Banks counties also receive aid
Hollis Transportation & Distribution forklift operator Jason Linder moves a pallet of food products to be stacked Tuesday afternoon inside the Hollis Transportation & Distribution warehouse in Oakwood Industrial Park South. Federal stimulus funds to provide food and shelter assistance to those in need have been given to Hall County for agencies like the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

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A federal agency that is associated with disaster relief is reaching out to help local communities with everyday emergencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently announced that it will be awarding more than $3.2 million to Emergency Food and Shelter programs around the United States to be dispersed to local boards to assist with area nondisaster related emergencies.

"Agencies will be able to apply for money through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program board," said Andy Thompson, who is the local board chairman. "The board will then make a decision about what agency gets what amount of money."

The agencies that will be eligible to apply for the funds include those that provide food and shelter assistance to those in need.

"A number of our partner agencies are reporting an increase in the number of people coming to them for help; some are seeing increases around 70 percent," said Kay Blackstock, Georgia Mountain Food Bank Inc. executive director. "Our agencies are struggling to meet the increased needs of their clients and we are in turn struggling to meet the increased needs of our partner agencies, so any additional funding assistance would be a blessing."

Georgia Mountain Food Bank Inc. is a redistribution organization that disperses food to area food banks in Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Union counties.

Locally, the funds from the federal government will be dispensed directly to the Ninth District Opportunity Inc., which will then disburse funds to the board-approved agencies.

Ninth District Opportunity Inc. is a nonprofit agency that provides programs and opportunities for low-income families.

The funds will be awarded to more than 2,500 different cities and counties. Hall County will receive $54,017 and neighboring Jackson County will receive $18,263. Other surrounding counties that will receive money from FEMA include Habersham, Lumpkin and Banks counties who will all receive between $3,000 to $14,000.

The funds that are being distributed through FEMA are a part of the federal stimulus package and are expected to "bring immediate relief to communities to address unemployment, poverty and other needs in light of the economic climate faced by our country."