California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new program, Farm to Family, to help provide fresh and local food to those who need it.
As farmers are experiencing a 50% reduction in demand this program will create a place for the unused food to go. Newsom explained they will, “Work with the ranchers [and] farmers to connect them to the food banks and do so in a way that jumpstarts our capacity to deliver nutritious…high quality, locally produced produce, poultry, dairy and the like to those most in need in the state of California.”
The state’s goal, with the help of philanthropy, is to provide 21 million pounds of fresh produce monthly for the rest of the year to the state’s food banks. So far, they have donated to 41 food banks in 58 counties and raised $3.6 million.
Newsom explained the state is, “Getting product and produce that otherwise would literally be thrown away as waste and now providing [a] tax credit to the farmers.”
He then moved on to explain two new waivers from the federal government. The first being that the Calfresh program is now able to access commodities online from places such as Amazon and Walmart. The second is working to provide food for the 49% of students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches to help, “Advance their nutritional needs”. If a child qualifies for this program, their family can receive $365 additional dollars; Nancy Pelosi and Kim Johnson are working to give up to $1.4 billion for 3.8 million families in California.
Newsom expressed, “We deeply recognize people’s food insecurity, not just their economic insecurity” which is why he is partnering with food banks, farms, ranches, local producers, philanthropy, and volunteers.
He explained this is one of the many programs California was in the process of creating, but due to the coronavirus pandemic has been fast-tracked. Karen Ross, the secretary of agriculture, has been fighting for programs like Farm to Family for years but put this together in just a few weeks because as Newsom explained, “What often takes a year, now we need to do in months, what takes a month, we now need to do in weeks, what takes weeks we need to do in days and what we used to do in days we need to do in hours.”
There are currently 128 participants and 200 additional farms and ranchers that want to begin participating. With the $20 million mercy grant, 900,000 boxes already went out, providing a family of three or four up to three to four days of fresh and ready to be consumed food that would otherwise go to waste.
Following his typical routine, Newsom ended the briefing discussing key numbers in regards to COVID-19. Sadly, 78 lives were lost today, there was a 1.2% increase in patients and a 0.4% increase in the ICU.
With 3.7 million people filing for unemployment insurance since March 12th, the state has distributed over $6 billion of benefits, $1.2 billion yesterday alone. Additionally, there was a spike in applications yesterday with 235,000 applications for unemployment insurance and PUA program.
Finally, Project Room Key now has acquired 12,603 hotel rooms and 1,200 traitors across the state of California. All of these numbers serve as a reminder of the importance of the stay-at-home orders.