Following reports that farmers and ranchers have been dumping milk, eggs and produce as demand from restaurants plummets, California will begin connecting those farm products to desperate food banks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said some farmers and ranchers are experiencing a “jaw-dropping” 50% reduction in demand, while food banks are seeing about 73% more demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Here we are, the breadbasket of the world, California, and we want to address that mismatch,” he said.
The program will move at least 20 million pounds of “high quality, locally produced produce, poultry, (and) dairy” from farms to food banks in May, Newsom said. The food will go to 41 food banks to be distributed in every county across the state.
The program has an initial $3.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and private donations. Newsom said he has tapped billionaire philanthropist Kat Taylor to head up fundraising for the partnership, which he hopes to continue through the end of the year.
Taylor is the wife of former presidential candidate Tom Steyer, who is leading the governor’s economic recovery team
Newsom also announced efforts Wednesday to help expand access to food for low-income Californians.
The state will begin paying $365 per child to low-income families whose children normally qualify for free or reduced meals at school. Newsom estimated around $1.4 billion would be paid to benefit 3.8 million children.
Families with children who are eligible for CalFresh, Medi-Cal or foster care benefits will automatically be mailed a benefit card. Other families who qualify for free or reduced school meals can apply beginning in late May, the governor’s office said.
The governor said a second waiver will allow recipients under the state’s food stamp program, CalFresh, to begin using their debit cards online to order groceries from Walmart and Amazon.
EDD Overwhelmed By Applicants For New Gig Worker Relief
Applications for unemployment insurance spiked Tuesday, on the first day that independent contractors and self-employed Californians were able to apply for benefits.
Newsom said of the 235,000 people who applied for unemployment Tuesday, around 190,000 were seeking benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for nontraditional workers.
But many more could not get in.
“I am deeply aware that many of you tried to access that system online, in person, and struggled to get in,” Newsom said. “We are trying to get our arms around this unprecedented volume.”
More than 3.7 million Californians have applied for unemployment since the pandemic began. Newsom said the state has so far distributed more than $6 billion in benefit payments.
Watch live at 12 p.m. as California Gov. Gavin Newsom gives an update on COVID-19 in the state.
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