[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz today announced an allocation of $47 million federal American Recue Plan funds as the state continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $47 million includes funding to support child care programs across the state, provide immediate hunger relief, and increase availability of rapid testing as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country.
“The federal American Rescue Plan funds deliver relief to Americans by providing resources to fight this pandemic and build a stronger economy for generations to come,” said Governor Walz. “Minnesotans continue to battle COVID-19 and the social, economic, and health care challenges it brings every day. Today’s investments will help more Minnesotans access child care, ensure food security, and provide increased access to rapid testing.”
Increasing Availability of At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Tests
Testing is a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, allowing Minnesotans to go about their daily lives with less fear of contracting or spreading the virus. The Governor’s allocation of $2.5 million in federal funds will expand the state’s COVID-19 testing infrastructure, get more at-home rapid tests in the hands of Minnesotans, and enhance the equitable distribution of testing for Minnesotans facing healthcare barriers.
To date, the Walz-Flanagan Administration has secured and provided approximately 1.1 million free rapid tests to Minnesotans through schools, child care providers, and state-run Community Testing sites, and this additional $2.5 million will make the critical tool of testing more accessible to Minnesotans as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread.
Investing in Food Security Across the State
$20 million of the federal funds will be used to provide urgent relief to Minnesotans experiencing food insecurity. Funding will support immediate household food needs and system capacity as part of the state’s emergency food response and Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) benefit access. Funds will be targeted to a diverse network of food resources, such as food shelves and meal programs, representing the efforts of community-based organizations, tribes, and local governments. The funding will be used to cover food purchases, food distribution costs, meal preparation, cleaning supplies, technology needs, outreach efforts, and training and technical assistance to assist in the response to Minnesota’s emergency food challenges caused by the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and rising food costs.
Supporting Child Care Access
The Governor has also allocated $20 million to help child care programs experiencing increased costs and staffing challenges related to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases remain open for families. While Minnesota is in a stronger position than many states due to the Governor’s continued support for child care, the sector was vulnerable prior to the pandemic and faces unique and continued urgent needs as COVID spreads. The $20 million in flexible funding will be used to assist providers who are experiencing lost revenue and increased costs associated with COVID-19 temporary classroom quarantines, pandemic-related worker vacancies and staffing limitations, among other needs. Child care providers may apply for and receive these funds through the Minnesota Department of Human Services January Child Care Stabilization Base Grant application.