California restaurants will get taxpayers’ money to feed millions of seniors during the coronavirius pandemic, but only if they can offer food with fresh fruit, vegetables, and no sweet drinks.
Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that the requirements reflect California values, even though lawmakers have repeatedly failed to impose special taxes and require warning labels for sugary drinks in the past.
“We want to … have a variety of choices and make sure what we send to our seniors is low sodium and not high fructose drinks or sweet drinks and the like,” Newsom said.
California has been under mandatory mandatory home stay since March 19, forcing schools and businesses that are not essential to be closed. Restaurants have become one of the hardest-hit industries in the state, with more than 1 million workers laid off or abandoned, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.
The local government will choose which restaurants will produce food and get money. But restaurants must meet nutrition guidelines. Foods cannot have too much sodium and lunch and dinner must have at least one piece of fresh fruit or vegetables.
Jot Condie, president and chief executive officer of the California Restaurant Association, said he believes restaurants can adapt to requirements.
“We realize that this is a sensitive subpopulation that has special dietary needs and I think it might not be for every restaurant,” he said, adding that: “We have made phone calls from restaurants that want to participate.”
Newsom said the federal government would cover 75% of the costs while state and local governments would pay the remainder.
To be eligible, the elderly must live alone or live with one other person who is also eligible. They cannot generate more than $ 74,940 per year (or $ 101,460 for households of two people) and they must have documented exposure to the corona virus. Anyone who has gotten money from other federal food programs will not be eligible.
California has around 5.7 million people aged 65 years and over, around 1.2 million people live alone. An eligible senior will get up to $ 66 per day for three meals at a local restaurant that meets certain criteria.
“We will provide unlimited amounts of food,” Newsom said.
While taxpayers will pay for food, local sales tax will still apply. That could be a boon for local governments, which have suffered because sales tax collections have dried up with little spending on people. The California City League said the local government would do it lost about $ 6.7 billion over the next two years because of coronavirus.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association who supports lower taxes and smaller governments, said he supported Newsom’s initiative provided it included the supervision needed to guard against abuse.
“Assuming that they are careful about spending money, and ensuring that no one gets rich or that people receive food that they can easily buy themselves, our sensitivity is not insulted by that,” he said.
California has more than about 40,000 confirmed viral cases and more than 1,500 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is likely to be much higher because many have not been tested, and research shows people can become infected without feeling sick.
Newsom said hospitalization and patients in the intensive care unit were the main statistics to decide when to relax the order to stay at home. Both numbers are basically flat for most of the week.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and coughing that disappears in two to three weeks. For some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia and death.
That’s why Newsom said booking a stay at home is likely to be longer for people aged 65 years and over.
“Our seniors will continue to be the focus of our energy,” Newsom said.