As we all know by now, the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the service industry, causing restaurants to close their doors and lay off workers. In a novel attempt to get restaurants rehiring workers right away, California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a new aid program in which California will team up with the federal government to pay restaurants to provide three meals a day to needy seniors.
The partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local governments will provide eligible seniors with 21 meals a week, Newsom said. FEMA will cover 75% of the costs of the meals. The state will cover most of the remaining costs, and restaurants would be reimbursed at rates of $16 for breakfasts, $17 for lunches, and up to $28 for dinners. According to Newsom, the program is a first of its kind in the nation, tackling three key problems: skyrocketing unemployment, municipal budget shortfalls, and protecting seniors.
Newsom said there will be eligibility requirements for seniors, based in part on their income but also based on their risk of exposure to COVID-19, if they have a compromised immune system or if they have been directly impacted or exposed to the coronavirus. That will be decided on a local level. He also noted that in addition to providing business for restaurants that have been forced to dramatically scale back operations, the costs of meals will also generate tax revenue for local governments.
The program is called “Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Older Californians”, and you can find more information about it on the state’s website at covid19.ca.gov.