For Immediate ReleaseJune 23, 2021
Free FEMA-paid meals from local restaurants assisted businesses, helped seniors
San Rafael, CA – After the delivery of more than 300,000 meals in Marin County during the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary program that provided free meals to qualified older adults who were sheltering and ineligible for other nutrition programs is ending July 9.
The local version of State of California’s Great Plates Delivered Program was funded by the state, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the County of Marin since it started in May 2020. It helped nearly 800 seniors avoid going hungry, paying for 312,833 meals as of June 10. The state announced that program funding would end July 9, so the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is notifying the local recipients, restaurants, and other food suppliers that supplied the meals about the program’s end.
“This program has been a great success and has made a difference in the lives of many,” said Kari Beuerman, HHS’ Director for Social Services. “During the height of COVID-19’s spread, our older residents were particularly vulnerable to the virus and fearful about leaving their homes to go shopping. They needed to stay sheltered, but they also needed help with meals. At the same time, our restaurants were badly in need of business as the economy struggled. Great Plates really helped both groups at a critical time, and we’re thankful it became a viable option. HHS has heard outstanding feedback from the residents and the participating vendors throughout the program.”
Great Plates provided jobs for 111 employees working for 30 local vendors. The County of Marin advanced more than $6.7 million to the program in addition to funding from the state and federal governments.
Although most Marin seniors are now vaccinated against COVID-19, restaurants have reopened to some degree, and fears of venturing outside have diminished, Marin HHS is working to avoid renewed food insecurity for vulnerable seniors. An errant message recently circulated about the continuation of Great Plates through September could cause confusion among meal recipients, Beuerman said. The program does indeed sunset on July 9th.
“Many participants have become reliant on this help, and we don’t want them to feel as if there are no other options for them,” she said.
Here are other food programs for older adults:
Kari BeuermanSocial Services DirectorDepartment of Health and Human Services
20 N. San Pedro Rd.San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6263Email: Kari BeuermanMarin HHS website