California governor Gavin Newsom
Rich Pedroncelli | Pool | AP
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a new program Friday called “Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Seniors,” which will use local eateries to prepare and deliver free food for older adults in need.
Created through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the statewide program went into immediate effect Friday, and is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to Newsom.
He estimated that there are over 5.7 million seniors in California and that 1.7 million of them live alone and may be unable to cook their own meals. In addition to helping these residents, Restaurants Deliver is also designed to create jobs.
“This partnership will allow for the ability for restaurants to start rehiring people or keep people currently employed,” Newsom said at a press briefing Friday.
Restaurants Deliver will provide three meals a day, seven days a week for seniors and Newsom said there is currently no cap on the number of meals that will be prepared. The state and FEMA will reimburse local governments for most of the program’s cost, according to Newsom.
Local governments will be responsible for choosing restaurants for the program. Newsom said Restaurants Deliver has nutritional guidelines that encourage the participation of independently owned restaurants that use locally grown food to produce healthy meals low in sodium and sugar.
The state is working with local governments to reach out to seniors eligible for the program, including those who meet certain economic criteria, have had direct exposure to Covid-19, have a high risk of exposure to the virus or are immunosuppressed. Seniors can also find out more information by accessing 211 services or the state’s Covid-19 website.
California has a total of 39,254 confirmed positive coronavirus cases as of Friday, Newsom said.