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Taxpayers will pay restaurants to feed seniors in California

The state is launching a first-in-the-nation meal delivery program, a partnership to make wellness check-in calls, and the expansion of Friendship Line California to help combat social isolation.

Posted: Apr 24, 2020 2:48 PM
Updated: Apr 27, 2020 5:39 PM

CALIFORNIA – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday a series of initiatives to support the most vulnerable who are isolated at home. The state is launching a first-in-the-nation meal delivery program, a partnership to make wellness check-in calls, and the expansion of Friendship Line California to help combat social isolation.

Taxpayers will pay restaurants to make meals for millions of California’s seniors during the coronavirus pandemic, an initiative that could pump billions of dollars into a devastated industry while generating sales tax collections for cash-strapped local governments, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.

California has about 5.7 million people 65 and older and it’s not known precisely how many will be eligible, though Newsom said he expects it will be millions. To qualify, seniors must earn below 600% of the federal poverty level, which is $74,940 for an individual and $154,500 for a family of four. They also must have either been exposed to the virus, have a high risk for exposure or a compromised immune system.

A qualifying senior will get up to $66 per day for three meals at local restaurants that meet certain criteria. If 2 million people sign up and get all three meals a day, the price tag would be about $4 billion per month.

The federal government will pay for 75% of the cost. Local governments will pay for the rest. But the state government will cover 75% of the cost to local governments.

“This will allow for the ability for restaurants to start rehiring people or keep people currently employed,” Newsom said. “We will provide an unlimited number of meals.”

Local governments will choose which restaurants will make the food and get the money, decisions Newsom indicated would be based partly on nutrition. The program will favor “independent restaurants” and produce from local farms.

RELATED: Local restaurant & business guide

Newsom said this will also help provide jobs to local businesses and aid those in need. The program will be administered by local authorities and will serve older Californians who are ineligible for other nutrition programs.

The "Social Bridging Project" will mobilize more than 1,000 callers to proactively reach out to older Californians who are isolating at home. It will combat social isolation through direct, one-on-one communication with older adults, many living alone, and isolated.

Listos California is partnering with the California Department of Aging, United Airlines, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and Sacramento State University to make calls to older Californians.

Lastly, Newsom announced the Friendship Line California is expanding to support lonely and isolated older Californians.

Callers will check on the individual’s well-being, connect them to resources, and connect with them on a personal level. The line is toll-free and available to provide emotional support to older Californians facing loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. Contact the Friendship Line California at 1-888-670-1360.

People with additional questions may also call the state's COVID-19 line at 833-422-4255 (833-4CA-4ALL).

The governor has provided more information on these initiatives, Click Here for details.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 101050

Reported Deaths: 3895
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles487612201
Riverside7139303
San Diego6882249
Orange5646136
San Bernardino4567176
Alameda304993
Santa Clara2688140
San Francisco240840
San Mateo196382
Kern194136
Tulare179679
Santa Barbara160412
Fresno153526
Contra Costa137537
Imperial135224
Sacramento131956
Ventura101732
San Joaquin77133
Kings6983
Stanislaus67028
Sonoma5244
Solano49920
Monterey4298
Marin42014
Merced2737
San Luis Obispo2631
Santa Cruz2052
Yolo20022
Placer1949
Napa1093
Humboldt982
Madera902
El Dorado800
San Benito762
Sutter422
Nevada411
Butte400
Del Norte400
Shasta374
Mono351
Yuba281
Mendocino230
Lake190
Inyo191
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Glenn130
Amador100
Siskiyou61
Colusa50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Lassen40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
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Oroville
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Paradise
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Chester
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Red Bluff
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Willows
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Today a heat wave continues but tomorrow night rain moves in, lasting into Saturday with much cooler temperatures. We warm up again on Tuesday.
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