On April 24, Newsom announced Great Plates Delivered, a first-in-the-nation program to send three nutritious restaurant meals per day to isolated seniors sheltering in place from the coronavirus. It was a win-win, Newsom said, that would help keep seniors “in the millions” healthy and restore restaurants jobs.
“Even if it’s hundreds of thousands that take advantage of this, just in weeks you’ll see millions and millions of meals part of this program,” Newsom said.
The program got off to a rocky start. Though Newsom said the program went into effect immediately, local officials were caught unawares, even as tens of thousands of seniors called 211 to sign up. Eyeing the program’s looming May 10 expiration date, many municipalities opted out.
Since then, the federal government has extended funding for the program through July 10 and 37 cities and counties have rolled out the program, delivering over 2 million meals to approximately 32,000 seniors.
While the program has been lauded for stimulating much-needed food industry jobs — for example, in Sacramento more than half of the initial 30 restaurants were minority-owned — others have criticized it for leaving behind seniors most in need. Seniors with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level are excluded, as are those who receive other federal nutrition programs like food stamps or Meals on Wheels, which provide far less assistance.
Check whether meals are offered in your area, and how to apply, at California’s COVID response website.