“We are living at a time right now where our non-profits are the backbone of getting food to people,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought on an increased demand for food pantries and shelters across the country, and struggling non-profits are doing all they can to accommodate that skyrocketing demand.
“We’ve already seen an increase in demand for food pantry services across the region. People are prioritizing paying their rent, but now they don’t have enough money for food,” said Pastor Sue Koesterman, the Executive Director of Churches United.
The senator is hoping to address these issues with her new bill, the WORK NOW Act.
The new bill would offer grants to struggling non-profits who operate essential services during the pandemic, and who offer to hire new employees to help continue their services.
“My hope here is that we use history as a lesson. One of the ways we got out of the great depression when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, was they did something with the Conservation Corps, and they were able to get people out to work,” said the senator, “We want to get people back to work and help these non profits fulfill there mission.”
“If non-profits are not able to continue because their budgets are so strained, then the community will suffer, and it will be the most vulnerable people in our community who suffer the most,” said Koesterman.
The funding would be managed by the Treasury Department, but around 4/5ths of the money given would be determined by local governments instead of the federal government.
“What’s our biggest need? Is it food shelves and those non-profits? Is it housing and those non-profits? I think you are going to see local governments deciding that best,” said Senator Klobuchar.
According to Churches United, homelessness in Minnesota was already up by 10% before the pandemic, and now, with millions of people out of work and homelessness rates expected to skyrocket, the urgency for non-profits to get funding has increased.
“We were already not able to keep up before COVID, it’s particularly critical to get the support that we needed six months ago. The sooner the better.”
Senator Klobuchar says that bi-partisan support for the bill is expected, and that they are working as quickly as they can to get non-profits the funding they need.