Coronavirus Financial Relief & Resources for Minnesota Families
*Be sure to check back for updates as more resources are added*
The Coronavirus has affected all of us, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.
Many families are struggling financially because of decreased work and pay, while many others are looking for help caring and educating their kids at home due to schools closing for weeks.
Stores are bare – not just toilet paper bare, but eggs, meat and other staples are often wiped out. (Tip: To get toilet paper, go to a store like Cub or Aldi when it first opens in the morning!)
But there’s good news! Some companies are stepping up to provide free help to get through this time, and there are many new resources popping up every day.
Here is a roundup of what I’ve found so far – though I will update this as it grows. Please share any more that I should add to this list, and JOIN THE DISCUSSIONS on my Facebook page and in my group, Minnesota Money-Saving Moms!
Information and Resources
Cancellations – A list of cancellations in the Twin Cities that is being updated daily.
Center for Disease Control – Latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Minnesota Department of Health · Situation Update for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).
Minnesota Unemployment Insurance – If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits. You can also qualify if you can’t work due to lack of child care. Be sure to apply online vs. by phone if you can.
MNsure – If your employment changes, you could qualify for free or reduced-cost health insurance.
There are a lot of helpful discussions happening right now in these groups, and many resources are being shared as they become available.
Helping Hands MN – People sharing items with others in need. Post what you need and what you can share.
MN Parents of K-12 Covid-19 Support – A new (and quickly growing) Facebook group for Minnesota families.
Minnesota Resource Connection – People sharing local resources for food, housing and more.
Minnesota Money-Saving Moms – My group of 1200+ budget-minded moms around the state.
Free Kids Meals
Hunger Solutions has the best resource for finding free kids meals in Minnesota. They have an interactive map showing both schools and restaurants offering free meals. (Meals are available to all kids.)
Here is another list of restaurants in Minnesota offering free meals for kids.
Check with your school district for how they are making sure qualified kids are still receiving free meals during this time.
Free Community Meals, Discount Grocers and Food Shelves
Hunger Solutions also has an interactive map and list to find free community meals, food shelves and other help getting food. Many of these including community meals are open to all, no questions asked.
CSR Minneapolis – this website has a complete list of free community meals for the Minneapolis and western metro Twin Cities. You can download the list as a spreadsheet or a PDF, or search their calendar or interactive map.
Loaves and Fishes – A free meal program that serves hot meals throughout seven Minnesota counties. No questions asked – just walk into one of their dining sites during meal time and receive a hot, nutritious meal at no cost to you. Families, retirees, and many others dine here. On their website you can search for meals by location and by day.
YMCA – Many participating YMCA locations are giving away free bags of groceries to anyone who asks for them (while they last).
Mike’s Discount Foods – Mike’s Discount Foods is one of my favorite places to get food dirt cheap. They have plenty of healthful food – produce, meat, dairy, as well as many prepackaged goods and household supplies. Their foods are discounted because they are often close to (and sometimes past) expiration, so check each item before you purchase it. I’ve purchased items close to expiration and they have been perfectly good (I avoid expired items though – I have had to toss some of those).
ALDI – Aldi is one of my favorite places to shop because it’s cheaper than most other grocery stores. Drawbacks include limited choices, you need to deposit a quarter to use a shopping cart (which you get back when you return it) and you have to bring your own bags (or buy them). But the savings are worth it. Note: coupons are not accepted.
Free Printable Coupons
Use my free coupon database to search for coupons by item!
Also print free coupons from Coupons.com here!
Free Internet Access
On March 13th, 2020, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued a statement regarding certain companies’ pledge to open up public wi-fi networks, waive late fees, and refrain from disconnecting consumers for the next 60 days. Many actions are being taken to provide internet access to all.
Charter Communications – Charter announced that beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 it will offer free broadband and wifi access for 60 days to families with elementary school or college students who do not already have a Spectrum subscription. The company is also waiving its installation fees for new subscribers. In addition, Charter says it will open its more than half a million wifi hotspots across the country for public use. To enroll in the free broadband and wifi program, you can call 1-844-488-8395.
Comcast – In response to the Coronavirus, Comcast is offering 2 free months to new Internet Essentials customers (must be new customers). It’s effective March 16, 2020 and you must qualify as a low-income household. They are also increasing the speed of the program to 25 Mbps downloads, and 3 Mbps uploads for all new and existing customers. After your first two free months expire, you can either cancel the service (which you can do at any time) or keep it as a regular paying Internet Essentials customer. Customers will receive an easy to use self-install-kit that includes a cable modem (to receive service at your home) with a WiFi router (to connect your devices without wires). There is no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee for equipment.
Free Wi-fi in Minneapolis – USI opened their WiFi network in Minneapolis for those that may need temporary internet access.
- Look for the “City of Minneapolis Public WiFi” or “USI Wireless” networks on your mobile device and you will be connected. The process is similar to using Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or the airport.
- No password or credit card is required to sign in.
- Contact USI Internet support for more information or to get help over the phone. Note: You need to be within 50 feet of the hotspots.
Free Xfinity Wi-fi Hotspots Nationwide – Comcast opened their Xfinity WiFi network and is offering unlimited data for free. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, select the “xfinitywifi” network name open your Internet browser.
Relief from Student Loans
Relief from Cell Phone Companies
If you’re unable to pay your cell phone bill, don’t worry – companies are offering relief and will not terminate service. See each company’s website:
Relief from Banks and Credit Card Companies
For those facing hardship, credit card companies are allowing their customers to skip their March payments or at least offer other options for paying their bills as they’re able.
Digital TV Streaming
These are not coronovirus-specific deals, but are good deals if you want more TV options or want to cancel cable and try streaming instead!
Disney+ – Disney+ is FREE (basic plan) with Verizon Unlimited. Otherwise, Disney+ is $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. You get a free 7-day trial when you sign up via this link. “The best stories in the world, all in one place.” Frozen 2 is now included in the Disney+ library.
Disney+ with Hulu & ESPN – Bundle the three together for $12.99 a month and save 25%.
Hulu – You can get FREE Hulu (basic) if you have a Sprint Unlimited Plan. Otherwise, Hulu is $5.99/month with ads, or $11.99/month without ads. Hulu offers unlimited instant streaming of current and classic TV shows and hit movies. You can watch current season episodes of select top shows like Family Guy, This Is Us, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Good Doctor.
Amazon Prime Video – You’ll need a Fire TV stick and a Prime subscription, which is $12.99 a year or $119.00 a year, but you get many benefits including many movies and shows. If you’re an EBT or Medicaid cardholder, you can get Amazon Prime for $5.99 a month.
Netflix – Try 30 days free.
CBS All Access – Try 30 days free through April 23rd! It’s $5.99 after that. Students get a 25% discount.
Free Learning Resources
Amazing Educational Resources – A comprehensive list of free online educational resources.
Free Educational Resources for Parents in this New Normal – A great list by local Twin Cities Live personality, Mike Marcotte.
Scholastic Learn at Home – Scholastic is offering free daily learning experiences for kids of all ages. Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin!
Free Virtual Museum Tours – 12 famous museums around the world that offer virtual tours.
Free Virtual Farm Tours – Virtual farm tours for while you’re stuck at home.
Free Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari Facebook Live Events – Fun daily live visits with animals at the Cincinnati Zoo through April 11th!
Free Coronavirus Printable Worksheets for Kids – Explains the Coronavirus in an interactive way to little ones.
Free Coloring and Activity Sheets – Visit my Free Printables page for many free printables, especially Disney movie activities such as Frozen 2.
Spring Break 2020: Self-Quarantine Fun – A helpful, editable planner for your day. Ideal for teens and adults.
Free Online Storytimes
So many local businesses offer regular storytimes, like toy stores and book stores. Now that these are being cancelled, many are offering them online! Some local businesses offering these include:
Alyssa’s Book Corner – An independent Usborne Books Consultant
Magical Moments – A Minnesota-based Princess Business
Pinwheel Play – An indoor playplace in Chanhassen for your little ones
(I post these on Facebook when I find them!)
U-Haul – U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage to college students affected by the coronavirus in the U.S. and Canada. The free month applies to new customers with college IDs and is a limited-time offer subject to availability. Click on uhaul.com/storage to find the store nearest you. Contact the store by phone or visit in person to take advantage of the offer.
NEC Home Loan Programs – Home improvement and remodeling loans with low-interest financing. In addition they offer down payment assistance.
Centerpoint Energy Free Energy Efficiency Kits – Available only to CenterPoint Energy residential natural gas heating customers in Minnesota (non-gas customers are not eligible).
Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Independently owned reuse stores operated by local Habitat for Humanity organizations. They accept donations and sell home improvement items to the public at a fraction of the retail price. There are two locations, one in Minneapolis and one in New Brighton.
HomeLight – If you’re buying or selling, this is a free service to help you find top realtors in your area including Minneapolis.
Minnesota Tool Library – “Access over ownership.” A nonprofit lending library of over 5000 tools with a 7-day check out period. Located at the Thorp Building in Minneapolis. Cost starts at $55 for an individual membership. (Direct link: https://www.mntoollibrary.org/)
Minnesota Materials Exchange – The Materials Exchange is a free service that links organizations that have reusable goods they no longer need to those who can use them.
U of M Reuse Program Warehouse – The University of Minnesota ReUse Program collects surplus office furniture, supplies, equipment and parts from throughout the Twin Cities Campus and makes them available to University departments or individuals for purchase.
Craigslist – Find and sell just about anything directly to people in the Twin Cities (and beyond).
Freecycle – Post stuff you want to get rid or and/or find stuff others are giving away for free. Win-win!
Metro Transit – Metro Transit offers a Transit Assistance Program (TAP) that makes transit more affordable for low-income residents. Must have appropriate documentation when applying, such as EBT/WIC, state assistance, or similar.
Hennepin County’s free or sliding fee clinics – this website also lists 24/7 mobile crisis services
Tips for What to Do When (Pretty Much) Everything is Cancelled
So many things are being cancelled or postponed. What to do?
You’ve probably heard these:
Do NOT panic.
Avoid large social gatherings.
Wash your hands.
What else can you do?
I say, help out your neighbor. Check on those around you and offer resources you may have that others don’t (time to watch their kids while they look for new work, for example).
Also, I say make the most of this time with your family and friends. The world is still running – you can go to stores, parks, drive-thru’s. But just not as many places as usual right now, so explore things you can do outside or at home like:
- Take a walk
- Go for a hike
- Spring cleaning
- Yard games
- Try a new recipe
- Listen to music – dig out old CDs or tapes you haven’t listened to in years
- Go for a drive
- Watch a movie or show on TV
- Call a friend
- Check on neighbors
- Call or write letters to the elderly in nursing homes – they can’t have any visitors right now, so they’d appreciate your reaching out! (though I’d wait at least 1 day to send mail as the coronavirus can live on paper for that long)
Ten Things I Do When Times are Tough – I put this together a while back but perhaps it can help you during these times.
Other Money-Saving Resources
I share these here for when places open again (hopefully soon) so you have them available!
Free or Discounted Admission Programs for Limited Income Families in Minnesota – A list of places that offer free admission or other benefits to low income families in Minnesota.
Deals & Events Calendar – View my calendar of local deals and events.
Twin Cities Discount Guide for Families – My guide to all the ways you can save money (or even get free admission) at various places around the Twin Cities.
MELSA SmARTPass Program – FREE passes to local museums and performances! You just need a library card from one of the 8 library systems in the Twin Cities area.
Groupon – For discounted tickets, dining, shopping, travel and so much more.
Goldstar – See my Half Price Tickets page for half price and otherwise discounted tickets on local events from Goldstar!
Kids Eat Free – My list of Twin Cities restaurants where kids eat free with purchase of an adult meal.
100 Birthday Freebies – You and your kids can get tons of freebies on your birthday!
I want your feedback!
What else are you doing during this time?
What other resources do you know of that can be added to this list?
Join the discussions on Facebook (noted above), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment here!
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no cost to you. All opinions are 100% mine.)