CA to team up with restaurants for massive meal delivery program for seniors

Gov. Gavin Newsom

California will look to partner with local governments to have restaurants prepare and deliver healthy meals for seniors through a “first-of-its-kind” program, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday. 

Dubbed “Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Seniors,” the program is a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, local cities and counties that will enlist community restaurants to prepare meals that will be delivered to older Californians, while also supporting restaurant workers and employers who have lost business amid the pandemic. 

“The most important way for older Californians to stay safe is to stay at home. These programs will provide older, vulnerable Californians with access to nutritious meals in the safety of their homes and the opportunity to connect with someone who can listen to their concerns and make sure their needs are met. We are all in this together and we will continue to support older Californians who are more at risk during this public health emergency,” said Newsom. 

The announcement comes as an estimated 1.2 million of the 5.7 million older adults across the state live alone and may not have the resources to obtain fresh food as many look to adhere to the stay-at-home orders brought forth by the coronavirus outbreak. 

The program is set to reimburse participating restaurants for their delivery services three times a day, seven days a week. The reimbursement — 75% covered by FEMA and the remaining from the state — is up to $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch and $28 for dinner, with meals having low sodium and following other health guidelines. 

Restaurants Deliver is for older adults who do not qualify for other programs. “Meals on Wheels” programs can only do so much, said Newsom, adding that those who have been directly impacted or exposed to COVID-19 also qualify.

California will conduct outreach to enlist restaurants but those already interested in participating can dial 2-1-1, the governor said.

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