California restaurants to get public money for healthy meals

California restaurants to get public money for healthy meals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California restaurants will get taxpayer money to feed millions of seniors during the coronavirius pandemic, but only if they can offer meals with fresh fruit, vegetables and no sugary drinks.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday the requirements reflect California’s values, though lawmakers have repeatedly failed to impose special taxes and require warning labels for sugary drinks in the past.

“We want to … have a diversity of options and make sure what we are sending to our seniors is low sodium and not high-fructose drinks or sugary drinks and the like,” Newsom said.

California has been under a mandatory stay-at-home order since March 19, forcing schools and nonessential businesses to close. Restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit industries in the state, with more than 1 million workers either laid off or furloughed, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.

Local governments will choose which restaurants will make the food and get the money. But restaurants have to meet nutrition guidelines. Meals can’t have too much sodium and lunch and dinner must have at least one piece of fresh fruit or vegetable.

Jot Condie, president and chief executive officer of the California Restaurant Association, said he believes restaurants can adapt to the requirements.

“We are aware that it’s a sensitive subpopulation that has special dietary needs and I think that it may not be for every restaurant,” he said, adding that: “We have fielded a crush of phone calls from restaurants eager to participate.”

Newsom said the federal government will cover 75% of the cost while the state and local governments will pay for the rest.

To be eligible, seniors must either live alone or live with one other person who is also eligible. They can’t earn more than $74,940 per year (or $101,460 for a household of two) and they must have documented exposure to the coronavirus. Anyone already getting money from other federal food programs would be ineligible.

California has about 5.7 million people 65 and older, of which about 1.2 million live alone. A qualifying senior will get up to $66 per day for three meals at local restaurants that meet certain criteria.

“We will provide an unlimited number of meals,” Newsom said.

While taxpayers will pay for the food, local sales taxes will still apply. That could be a boon to local governments, which have suffered as sales tax collections have dried up with few people out spending. The League of California Cities says local governments will lose an estimated $6.7 billion over the next two years because of the coronavirus.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association that favours lower taxes and smaller government, said he supports Newsom’s initiative provided it includes necessary oversight to guard against abuse.

“Assuming that they are careful with the way that the money is spent, and making sure that nobody is getting wealthy or that people are receiving the meals they could have afforded to easily purchase themselves, our sensibilities are not insulted by that,” he said.

California has more than about 40,000 confirmed virus cases and more than 1,500 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is likely much higher because many have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.

Newsom has said hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units are key statistics for deciding when to loosen stay-at-home orders. Both numbers have been essentially flat for much of the week.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

That’s why Newsom said the stay-at-home orders will likely last longer for people 65 and older.

“Our seniors will continue to be a focus of our energies,” Newsom said.

Just Posted

The Red Deer U18AAA Braves hit the field this weekend for their first games of the Norwest League season. (Advocate File photo)
Red Deer’s U18AAA Braves ready to open season this weekend

It’s been more than a year since many Red Deer Minor Baseball… Continue reading

Traffic signal upgrades are planned for May 30 at the intersection of 67th Street and 52nd Avenue. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Traffic light repairs set for 49 Ave. and 51 St. over weekend

Drivers in Red Deer can expect delays at the intersection of 49… Continue reading

Until recently MicKaylehea Kien, of Red Deer, said she has been able to use her electric scooter at the local Tim Horton’s drive-thru. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Red Deer woman on mobility scooter denied service at drive-thru

Ordering inside a safer alternative, says Tim Hortons

Rusty the retriever-cross was found in Clearwater County by an angler on May 4 and was taken to Alberta Animal & Municipal Enforcement Services in Red Deer. (Photo contributed)
Dog likely dumped by owner in central Alberta rescued

Dog found in remote area of Clearwater County finds new home

Huzaifa (left), Saif (middle) and Zoya (right) were among the 60 or so Red Deerians who participated in a vigil for the victims of a recent terrorist attack that killed four people in London Ont. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer vigil honours victims of London, Ont. terrorist attack

About 60 people gathered at the corner of 49 Ave. and 50… Continue reading

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Friday, June 11, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Verdugo, Red Sox rally from 4 down, top Blue Jays 6-5 in 9th

Verdugo, Red Sox rally from 4 down, top Blue Jays 6-5 in 9th

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) celebrates with teammates after of Game 6 in an NHL hockey second-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Islanders won 6-2. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
‘New York Saints’ moniker catches on during Islanders run

‘New York Saints’ moniker catches on during Islanders run

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price shakes hands with his Winnipeg Jets counterpart Connor Hellebuyck following overtime NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Montreal, Monday, June 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Paul Maurice says he’s proud of the job Jets coaches did this year

Paul Maurice says he’s proud of the job Jets coaches did this year

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price eyes a flying puck during first-period NHL Stanley Cup playoff action against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in Montreal, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
‘We believe in ourselves’: Canadiens comfortable as underdogs against Golden Knights

‘We believe in ourselves’: Canadiens comfortable as underdogs against Golden Knights

NDP member of Parliament Lindsay Mathyssen rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 26, 2021. Federal lawmakers are calling on the government to convene an emergency summit on Islamophobia by the end of July. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
MPs move to convene emergency Islamophobia summit before August

MPs move to convene emergency Islamophobia summit before August

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler holds a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on Thursday, March 26, 2015. The federal government is convening an emergency summit on antisemitism even as it faces criticism for welcoming an anti-Israel MP into the ranks of the governing Liberals.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals convene antisemitism summit amid concerns over new MP’s views on Israel

Liberals convene antisemitism summit amid concerns over new MP’s views on Israel

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Most Read