Three local organizations will receive a total of $1.8 million in year-end COVID-19 relief funding (“CRF”) after Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz directed the county Division of Budget and Management to reach out to local institutions known to be in acute fiscal distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic to determine if remaining CRF could be used to assist them. The Buffalo Zoo, SUNY Erie and FeedMore WNY will each receive funding prior to the Dec. 30 deadline for the use of these funds.
“Extending this funding to these organizations will help them to continue operations despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented,” Poloncarz said. “2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and while it is late in the year it’s not too late to help. The Zoo, SUNY Erie and FeedMore WNY will put this funding to good use.”
The Buffalo Zoo will receive $363,979.97 in funding, and is unique in that over 68% of its budget is spent on fixed costs for animal welfare even when no visitors are entering the facility. CRF funds will be used to reimburse the zoo for various COVID-related improvements and staffing changes that have been made in order to allow the zoo to reopen.
Due to the COVID-19 recession, FeedMore WNY has seen a massive increase in demand for assistance, while simultaneously having to implement social distance and infection control measures to safely deliver services. $677,563.73 in CRF funding will be used to reimburse FeedMore for emergency food distribution, additional staff, hazard pay, PPE and infection control costs.
SUNY Erie has seen a significant decrease in enrollment and simultaneously was required to implement a wide array of COVID-19 control measures by New York, including mass testing of all students and faculty. $846,498 in CRF funding will be used to reimburse SUNY Erie for its COVID-19 expenditures including pool testing and infection control measures.