Founded in 1929, Hallie Q. Brown is an African American, nonprofit social service agency serving about 50,000 people each year in Saint Paul. Greater Twin Cities United Way was Hallie Q’s first funder and has continued to be a huge supporter of the agency over the last nine decades.
Today, Greater Twin Cities United Way funds Hallie Q. Brown’s work in food security year-round, including a food shelf serving 19 zip codes. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Executive Director Jonathan Palmer reported the food shelf began seeing a steady increase in visits as businesses closed and workers lost their income.
“COVID-19 is hitting people experiencing poverty the hardest,” said Palmer. “During the first two weeks of the pandemic, there was a significant uptick of people coming through our doors who had never received services. We usually have about five new clients each month and now we’re seeing over 100.”
Early in the crisis, Greater Twin Cities United Way connected with 95 nonprofit partners to identify the most pressing community needs and created the Greater Twin Cities COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Hallie Q. Brown was one of 31 nonprofits who received a first round grant from the fund in late March to address critical needs, including their food shelf.
“No one was fully prepared for COVID-19, so the timing of this grant could not have been better,” Palmer said. “This is a lifesaving gift from Greater Twin Cities United Way.”
The center is using the COVID-19 grant to keep their staff employed as well as purchase food for the food shelf.
“Food is a basic need to survive. If people are in crisis, it can be the first piece that lets them breathe for a second,” Palmer said.