New Program Will Pay California Restaurants To Feed At-Risk Seniors During Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Order

April 25, 2020

With a dual part mission to help older adults at high risk from COVID-19 to stay home while providing essential economic stimulus to local restaurants struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a first-in-the-nation "Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Seniors" partnership that will reimburse local restaurants for delivering three meals per day to high-risk individuals.

Yesterday, California governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new statewide program that will subsidize restaurants for providing hot meals to senior citizens. The Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Seniors program aims to limit exposure of California’s seniors especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus and will reimburse restaurants for delivering three meals per day. According to the website, the program will be rolled out over the next few days. The program will provide each senior $66 a day for the meals. Once signed up, participating eateries will be reimbursed up to $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch, and $28 for dinner, plus sales tax. 

"This partnership will allow for the ability for restaurants to start rehiring people, or keep people currently employed, and start preparing meals, three meals a day, seven days a week, and have those meals delivered to our seniors, all throughout the state of California," Governor Newsom said at his midday press briefing on Friday. "It's not just about the meals. It's about a human connection, about someone just checking in as they're delivering those meals and making sure people are okay."

Newsom said the program could help as many as 1.2 million elderly and at-risk Californians who live alone. It will be limited to those who are at "high risk for exposure" to the coronavirus or have an income of no more than 600% of the federal poverty level, approximately $76,500 a year. County and city officials across California will be in charge of setting up the details of the program. Delivered meals will be required to adhere to nutritional guidelines and ideally, ingredients would be locally sourced, noted Newsom. Local governments will be expected to pay restaurants for the meals, and will later be reimbursed by the state and FEMA. The program is expected to remain in place for a time even after the stay-at-home orders are lifted and/or modified.

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