Coronavirus: Newsom announces three-part plan to distribute food to Californians in need

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday a series of initiatives to combat barriers to nutritious meals for millions of Californias amid the coronavirus pandemic.
SACRAMENTO (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday a series of initiatives to combat barriers to nutritious meals for millions of Californias amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor said during his daily press conference that a new EBT program will provide benefits for roughly 3.8 million children who are eligible for free or reduced school meals.

Families with kids who normally receive those school meals will get extra food benefits to help buy food while schools remain closed.

"We're dealing with a pandemic. We're dealing with a crisis. It requires a focus, it requires an intentionality. It requires people doing things they never imagined possible even just two months ago," Newsom said.

Families can receive additional benefits up to $365 for each child who is eligible. The total amount depends on how many eligible children are living in each home. Students can still pick up to-go meals even if they are receiving Pandemic-EBT benefits.

Raw: Gov. Newsom describes how EBT program will benefit children, families amid COVID crisis
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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday a series of initiatives to combat barriers to nutritious meals for millions of Californias amid the coronavirus pandemic.


"This Pandemic-EBT program will make available a universe of up to $1.4 billion for $3.8 million eligible families...to begin to utilize those dollars from that CARES Act to advance their nutritional needs," Newsom said. "The framework for that eligibility is about a 64-day period from March to middle of June, but the universe of available dollars is rather large."

The program will be available for eligible families starting in May.

Those who receive CalFresh food benefits can now use their EBT card to buy groceries online at Amazon and Walmart statewide.

California officials are actively working to expand the number of stores that accept EBT online in the future, according to the state's website.

"It's about 2.2 million households, little over 4 million people, that now can avail themselves to access that opportunity online," Newsom said.

The governor also announced a new farms-to-families initiative under a partnership between the federal government, the state of California and philanthropy to connect farmworkers to food banks to deliver nutritious, local food to those most in need.

The California Association of Food Banks' Farm to Family program will work with 128 farmers, ranchers, packers and shippers to distribute 21 million pounds of products to 40 food banks throughout the state on a monthly basis.

Newsom said "food boxes" would contain three to four days worth of food for a family of four. They contain fresh, locally sourced food (not just canned goods), some of which may have otherwise gone to waste.

"Getting product and produce that would otherwise literally be thrown away as waste, and now providing a tax credit to the farmers of 15% and providing a wage to the farm workers and getting philanthropy to help support this and getting those federal dollars drawn down that otherwise would not be drawn down," Newsom said.

Find more information on the program here.
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