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New Program Provides Free Restaurant Meals to Older Adults

Posted on May 7, 2020


Great Plates Program

State’s Great Plates Delivered program goes before Board of Supervisors May 12

San Rafael, CA – In partnership with the local community, the County of Marin plans to start participation in the State of California’s Great Plates Delivered Program, set up to support older adults who are sheltering in place, unable to access meals, and ineligible for other nutrition programs.

Marin Great Plates, which would be free to recipients, also is a way to support local restaurants and other food providers who are struggling because of the economic downturn related to COVID-19.

The Marin County Board Supervisors will consider approving the program during its May 12 meeting as proposed by the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If approved, Marin Great Plates will launch its pilot program and deliver three restaurant meals a day, five days per week, to older adults starting May 18. The program will run through May 29 with the possibility of extension through June 10.

The first 1,000 people who apply who meet eligibility criteria will be recipients of the meals. To qualify, Marin residents must meet the following:

  • Individuals who are 65 or older, or 60-64 and at high-risk as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, including those who are medically documented as COVID-19 positive, COVID-19 exposed, or living with an underlying health condition;
  • Individuals living alone or with one other program-eligible adult;
  • Individuals not receiving assistance from other state or federal nutrition assistance programs;
  • Individuals earning no more than 600% of the federal poverty limit, which is $74,940 or $101,460 for a household of two;
  • Individuals who can affirm an inability to prepare or obtain meals.

The program is free of cost to participants and the majority of the cost will potentially be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of California. The County of Marin will fund the remaining share of cost. Program costs to the funding parties for the three meals will be limited to $66 per day, including tax, delivery, and incidental costs – a maximum of $17 for breakfast, $18 for lunch, and $31 for dinner. Local restaurants will develop modified menus to meet nutritional guidelines and cost requirements.

Starting at noon Tuesday, May 12, residents may call Whistlestop at 415-456-9073 to see if they qualify for the program. The first 1,000 residents who qualify will be served in the initial two-week pilot. Those who receive any state or federally funded nutrition program will not qualify for Marin Great Plates. Those receiving service from CalFresh, Home Delivered Meals (Meals on Wheels), or the County grocery bag delivery program are not eligible.

Local restaurants interested in participation may apply online and learn more about Great Plates. The County will select the first 50 that apply and meet the eligibility criteria. Restaurant selection is contingent on the food provider’s ability to meet volume and nutritional standards, source local produce/meats (if able), meet cultural needs, and prioritize local jobs, worker retention, worker health and safety, and standards of equity and fairness in employment practices, wages, hiring, and promotion.

All meals must be supplied by a food provider not currently participating in a state of federal meal service program. Priority will be given to food providers that meet Marin residents’ geographical and cultural needs. Restaurants will provide their own delivery service to qualified residents in their catchment area. All delivery drivers will be background checked.

County Press Release

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