State will pay restaurants to deliver meals to seniors during pandemic

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will pay for restaurants and catering companies to deliver nutritious meals to seniors stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new program will be organized by city and county governments, Newsom explained, with officials choosing local restaurants that can pay their workers to prepare and deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner for older, at-risk residents.

There will be some qualifications, the governor added, including that recipients have a high risk of exposure if they leave home, that they fall below a designated economic threshold, and that they either have had direct contact with COVID-19 or they have other pre-existing health issues.

Full eligibility guidelines will be posted on this web page in the coming days.

The food will have to meet nutritional guidelines, including incentives for using local produce, in support of nearby farms, according to the governor.

State and federal funds from FEMA will cover the vast majority of the program’s cost, with a small amount of the delivery service paid for by local governments.

Restaurants will be reimbursed $16 for breakfasts, $17 for lunches and up to $28 for dinners, the governor said. Newsom believes the program addresses multiple problems at once: getting food to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents while also stimulating local economies, both by employing more food workers and generating regional sales taxes.

Work on launching the service is already underway, and the state hopes to deliver “hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of meals, Newsom said.

Seniors who think they are eligible should call their local 2-1-1 information line or go to covid19.ca.gov for more information. Newsom said there would also be extensive outreach efforts to make sure the people who need help most are aware of the program.

Learn more about the new delivery service here.

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