California restaurants will be preparing three-square meals for vulnerable senior residents under a new partnership between the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out details on the plan during his daily COVID-19 press conference on Friday.
There are 5.7 million elderly Californians, with some 1.2 million who living alone — “socially isolated, unable in many respects to cook their own meals,” the governor said.
The new meal program will work like this: Cities and counties will choose local restaurants to prepare “an unlimited number” of meals for vulnerable seniors — those with high risk to exposure, who are very low income, or who are already impacted or exposed directly to the virus.
FEMA and the state will pay for the meals. “This partnership will allow for the ability for our restaurants to start rehiring people,” Newsom said.
Some Sacramento restaurants are already serving meals to low income residents.
Canon, a Michelin-star winning restaurant in East Sacramento, currently partners with four other local restaurants to make 2,900 meals a week for residents at nearly a dozen Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency complexes, in addition to 1,500 meals for Mercy Housing complexes and 1,000 more for various community-based organizations. They’ve been doing this since March 23.
“We’re able to take care of people in our community that need help, but we're also able to bring in some resources to our restaurant that allow us to keep our staff working during this downturn,” Canon owner Clay Nutting said.
The restaurant, which is also doing takeout and curbside-pickup for regular customers, intends to apply to participate in the new FEMA-California partnership program for seniors.
“The FEMA dollars that have recently been announced, we see it as a huge win-win,” Nutting said. “It's everything that we've been really fighting for and why we created this program.”
The governor said this meal program will be crucial, because elderly residents could need to stay at home much longer than the general population.
“The order for our seniors may come later,” Newsom said of lifting stay-at-home guidelines.
He also announced a special partnership with Sacramento State University, where gerontology students and staff will be available to talk and listen to seniors on a special hotline.
If seniors need emotional support or just someone to talk to, they can call (888) 670-1360, according to the governor.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.