Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced a partnership with FEMA on a meal delivery program for senior citizens across California during the coronavirus crisis.
The program would provide three nutritious meals a day to senior citizens stranded at home during the shelter-at-home order, the governor said. All meals will be prepared by local restaurants using locally produced foods.
The first-in-the-nation effort not only addresses the nutritional needs of older, more vulnerable Californians but also the issue of isolation of those residents, Newsom said.
"We estimate that 1.2 million of our seniors in California live alone, socially isolated, unable to cook their own meals," he said.
Newsom said the program, which takes effect immediately, also supports local restaurants, allowing them to rehire people or continue employing workers as they strive to stay afloat during these difficult economic times.
Reimbursements are as follows: $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch and $28 for dinner, a total of $66 a day.
"We want to get a lot of independent restaurants up and running again," Newsom said.
In terms of reimbursements, the state will pay for 75% of the local government's 25% share of the cost of the program, and FEMA will pick up the rest, Newsom said.
He added the program also supports local government with the generation of local sales taxes.
Newsom said eligibility is determined by the following criteria for persons 65 and older:
- A person at high risk to exposure to the coronavirus
- A person in a position where their economics are below 600% of federal poverty
- Someone who has been impacted by or exposed to COVID-19
- Someone who has a compromised immune system
Seniors who believe they are eligible can call their local 211 line as the initial point of contact for the process of eligibility. Or they can visit covid19.ca.gov.
Newsom also announced a new Friendship Line for older Californians who need someone to talk with: 1-888-670-1360. The line is a partnership between the Institute of Aging and the California Department of Aging, and will be staffed by former Alzheimer's Association workers.