California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday the “Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Seniors” program, aimed at feeding vulnerable senior citizens while simultaneously giving more business to restaurants and their workers.
The meal delivery program, which is in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has two purposes, according to the state of California website:
- Help older and other adults at high risk from COVID-19 to stay home and stay healthy by delivering three nutritious meals a day, and
- Provide essential economic stimulus to local businesses and workers struggling to stay afloat during the COVID crisis.
The program is effective immediately. It will reimburse participating restaurants for three meals per day: up to $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch, and $28 for dinner.
Gov. Newsom noted in a press conference at the end of last week that the program is aimed specifically at independent restaurants that are struggling or that have been forced to close because of the pandemic. “We want to get a lot of independent restaurants up and running again,” he said.
Participating restaurants will be selected by local governments. Their meals must adhere to certain nutritional guidelines and, ideally, use locally sourced ingredients.
Across the U.S. restaurant transactions are down and at least 3 percent of restaurants have permanently closed their doors. Those that remain open are exploring other lines of business in order to survive and keep at least some staff employed. Some restaurants are selling groceries. Others have pivoted entirely away from food and are paying employees to sew masks.
The program is the first in the U.S. dedicated specifically to senior citizens impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. World Central Kitchen has a similar initiative in place in the U.S. and is working with restaurants to deliver meals to both seniors and communities in need.
California’s program will serve millions of seniors living in isolation at this time. Those interested can enter their location at 211.org to see if they qualify.