PITTSFIELD - Berkshire United Way and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation teamed up to raise more than $2 million for local non-profits.

Candace Winkler, President & CEO of Berkshire United Way, said, "We know that a lot of the large funders, the government, take a little bit of time to get their systems in place, and we knew in the meantime, there were a lot of needs that philanthropy was probably best positioned to address.”

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund has given grants to more than 60 organizations so far. Berkshire Taconic president Peter Taylor says they’re focusing on non-profits providing essential community services.

“We can rapidly respond to needs that non-profits identify, and those needs range from to providing access to food and nutrition, to emergency child care, to taking care of the homeless," Taylor said. 

The Berkshire Food Project received an $11,000 grant from the fund last month.

Executive director Kim McMann says they’re using the money to purchase meals to give away from local restaurants.

McCann said, “It’s doing two things: It's helping us feed people, and it’s also keeping the places that are open for take-out sustainable, because some of those places are really struggling to stay open.”

About half of the money raised has been distributed already. Winkler says steps are being taken to ensure the fund lasts as long as it's needed.

“We have slowed the grant processing a little bit, because we don’t know whether this is going to last another three weeks or another three months," Winkler said. 

Anyone interested in donating to the fund can visit the Berkshire United Way website, which also has information for non-profits wishing to apply for grants.