In partnership with FEMA, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the first program in the nation to provide daily meals for seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Approximately 1.2 million seniors live alone in California; meaning while they are socially isolating many of them are losing proper nutrition due to an inability to cook for themselves.
Newsom explained California will work, “With cities and counties for a locally driven strategy to get our restaurant workers [and] our hospitality workers to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to our seniors and have the capacity to not only deliver and prepare, but to pay for this endeavor”
The program will provide an opportunity for restaurants to rehire employees while delivering three meals a day, seven days a week. Newsom said there is no capacity for how many meals they will provide. However, there is an, “eligibility capacity,…[seniors] must either have been at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, must be in a position where their economics are below 600 percent of federal poverty, must have already been impacted or exposed directly to COVID-19 or more broadly have a compromised immune system.”
Newsom aims to employ workers so that the state can provide, “Hundreds of thousands if not millions of prepared meals everyday delivered to our seniors throughout the state of California”.
Restaurants will be reimbursed $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch and up to $28 for dinner deliveries. Newsom said the funds will mostly come from the state, federal partnerships and FEMA funds, but local governments will also pay a smaller share, 75% of the 25% required to be exact.
Newsom continued, “This partnership also can support local government because the generation of local sales taxes associated with these purchases actually can start generating revenue in support for the local economy.”
He is relying on “Local government making the determination and the decision of which restaurants are eligible for participation “ while California works on reimbursements.
If you are a senior and think you quality for this program, call your local 211 or visit covid19.ca.gov for the “perfect point of contact”. In addition, the government plans to promote the program to inform those who cannot call or visit the website.
This program is not only about food, it’s about wellness and checking in on people. To continue the outreach program, (888) 670-1360 also known as the “Friendship Line” is open to all.
While staying at home is being done to keep safe, it may also lead to feeling lonely and isolated from others. #OlderAdults and their caregivers can call Friendship Line California at (888) 670-1360 to connect with a friendly, listening ear today #StayHomeSaveLivesCheckIn pic.twitter.com/TpinsID9sG
— California Department of Aging (@CalAging) April 24, 2020
Newsom said whether you have a request or simply, “Need someone to just listen for 5, 10, 20 minutes, you don’t need anything in particular, you just need to get something off your chest, you want to share some thoughts, how you are feeling” etc feel free to dial the number and talk.
United Airlines is providing call center staff and CERT is providing over 900 individuals to work with Sacramento state to be on one end of the Friendship Line.
Kim McCoy Wade, the Director of Department of Aging expressed, “We see the leadership that you [seniors] have shown in staying home” and “Loneliness is a terrible threat to our health and our community” so from the 8 year old struggling to learn online to the 80 year old widow, the line is open for anyone who wants to call.
Newsom reminded the audience, “We are committed to their [senior’s] health, to their safety” and because Meals on Wheels can only do so much he hopes this program can help improve the lives of many lonely seniors.
He ended the press briefing announcing that three out of the four numbers he mentioned yesterday decreased or remained flat. ICU patients went up slightly by 1%. Unfortunately, 93 people died yesterday and there was a 5% increase in positive tests for coronavirus. In regards to caring for our care givers Newsom said they have booked 56,000 room nights, all 100% reimbursed, for workers on the front lines. There are thousands of other rooms where individuals are paying a small percentage and people with higher incomes are “getting the benefit [of rooms], but on a sliding scale”.
When addressing California reopening Newsom said, “We are not by any stretch of the imagination in a position to say that those six indicators to which we make our determination about the future of our stay at home orders [have] any new [green] lights yet.”
“We don’t debate dates, we only are guided by indicators,” he continued “We have not yet met indicators to lift [the] order”.