A Dec. 21 article published in the Herald showed data from the North Dakota Kids Count report that warned of a “Looming food, housing catastrophe awaits because of the coronavirus pandemic.” As we approach the end of January, families are being pushed closer and closer to the cliff.

The bipartisan COVID relief agreement passed by Congress in December provides substantial, urgently needed relief to help struggling American families get through the next few months. It also includes a landmark $4 billion investment in global vaccines. But these measures are temporary. Soon millions of American families will be back in jeopardy again, struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, and the pandemic will continue to claim victims worldwide.

To address the crisis in our country, I call on the North Dakota Congressional delegation to join with their colleagues in a bipartisan effort to craft another COVID recovery package. It should include help for renters struggling to avoid eviction, boost food assistance via SNAP and shift tax policies to focus on low-income workers and families by expanding the EITC and Child Tax Credit. Also, deadlines must be extended, so the eviction moratorium will continue beyond January 31st, and increased SNAP benefits past June.

According to a report from the United Nations food agencies, 690 million people regularly go to bed hungry. UNICEF estimates 80 million children are at risk of preventable diseases like measles and polio. AIDS, TB and malaria deaths are projected to rise to levels we haven't seen in years. To prevent this catastrophe, the US should provide $20 billion in funding for health and nutrition in lower-income countries and $4 billion for AIDS, TB, and malaria.

Let’s encourage Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong to join with the new Congress to act swiftly in early 2021 to meet the needs inadequately addressed by the current package. Further relief for struggling families, our economy and victims of the pandemic worldwide is needed desperately. Time is of the essence.

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Kathleen Ness, Grand Forks