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Council Approves ‘Great Plates’ Program, Which Will Put Local Restaurants to Work Cooking Meals for Seniors

Service provides some economic stimulus to local restaurants

Published on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 | 3:03 pm
 

The City Council on Monday voted to support a program that could serve as a “restaurant stimulus.”

Great Plates Delivered intends to help seniors who are low-income, living alone or with one other program-eligible senior, and may not be able to prepare or obtain meals.

The program would use local restaurants to prepare the meals.

“We have put the infrastructure in place and we have developed the website,” said Brenda Harvey-Williams, Director of Pasadena’s Department of Human Services and Recreation. “We are prepared to start vetting the restaurants.”

So far, 66 local restaurants and 33 seniors have expressed an interest.

The city would receive sales tax on the transactions.

Pasadena is currently funding nine local food pantries and the YWCA to provide frozen meals.

“Our restaurants need to get back online and certainly there are some benefits for our seniors,” said Councilman Andy Wilson.

City staff, local auto dealers and private services could be used to make deliveries.

Local restaurants have taken a tremendous economic hit during the pandemic. The Safer at Home order requires owners to close dining rooms, but they can remain open for takeout and delivery.

The county is starting a similar program, but officials in the county cannot guarantee that Pasadena restaurants will be used in that service.

Long Beach and Burbank have also expressed interest in the program.

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom touted the meal program as a first-in-the-nation program to deliver fresh meals to eligible seniors throughout California.

Pasadena Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Little called on the city to participate in the program to help local restaurants.

On Monday, the City Council could decide to join the program and vote to appropriate an estimated $600,000 to fund the restaurant service and food delivery for one month.

“The purpose of the Great Plates Delivered program is to assist older adults and adults at high risk who are unable to access meals, to stay home and stay healthy by delivering three nutritious meals a day,” according to a city staff report. “The program also provides essential economic stimulus to local businesses and generates sales tax revenue during the COVID-19 crisis.”

According to program guidelines, each local agency must fund the program but may be reimbursed through FEMA Public Assistance Program and the state.

The city said FEMA has authorized the program to operate through June 10, administered by the California Office of Emergency Services. Cal OES plans to request two extensions. If these extensions are approved, the program will sunset on August 10.

A report by the City Manager’s office program says costs are up to $66 per day per person for three meals, or $22 per meal, inclusive of the delivery charge. FEMA may reimburse 75 percent of the costs, the state will reimburse 18.75 percent, and the city’s share is 6.25 percent.

Administrative costs may be reimbursable but cannot exceed 5 percent of the cumulative cost, according to the guidelines.

Eligible seniors are those who are 65 or older, or 60-64 years old but at high risk as defined by the CDC, including those who are COVID-19 positive, have been exposed to COVID-19, or have an underlying condition.

Those eligible must be living alone or living with one other program-eligible adult, must not be currently receiving assistance from other state or federal nutrition assistance programs such as CalFresh or Meals on Wheels, have a household income for one person not exceeding $74,940, or $101,460 for a household of two, and must affirm an inability to prepare or obtain meals.

Interested Pasadena food providers are required to apply for inclusion in the program.

Seniors and interested businesses can fill out an online form at www.cityofpasadena.net/great-plates. Signing up authorizes people to get more information about participating in the Great Plates Delivered Program, specifically in Pasadena, but does not automatically qualify residents for the program.

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