In an unorthodox move, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that the government will pay select seniors to order food from local restaurants struggling to stay open amidst the state’s recent coronavirus directives.
The governor revealed in a press conference that the new program will be funded through a combination of money from the state, local governments, and the federal government, and that the program will reimburse eligible seniors for up to $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch, and $28 for dinner.
“This partnership will allow for the ability for restaurants to start rehiring people, or keep people currently employed, and start preparing meals — three meals a day, seven days a week — and have those meals delivered to our seniors all throughout the state,” said the governor.
The remaining $5 will be provided for incidental costs, reports The Los Angeles Times. Although the eligibility requirements do not yet seem clear, the governor said that the program would provide an “unlimited number of meals” to at-risk seniors.
“They must either have been at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, must be in a position where their economics are below 600% of federal poverty, must have already been impacted or exposed directly to COVID-19, or more broadly, have compromised immune systems,” said Newsom.
The governor indicated that the program will follow certain nutrition guidelines and focus on local produce and independent restaurants.
During the press conference, Newsom also said that the program will generate funding for local government through sales taxes, claiming that the “generation of local sales taxes associated with these purchases actually could start generating revenue and support for the local economy.”
If 2 million seniors participate, the program could cost as much as $4 billion a month, and that’s assuming that the $66 per senior is the only cost, reports Reuters.
Furthermore, the news agency reports that the federal government will cover 75% of the cost of the program, the state of California will cover 18.75% of the program, and local governments will pick up the rest of the tab.
Assuming the $66 daily reimbursement rate is the only cost associated with the program, local governments would have to raise at least $4 in sales tax or other related restaurant taxes per participating senior each day to generate new revenue.
It’s not clear if this will be possible, but any potential difference could theoretically be offset if people not eligible for the program continue to order from restaurants.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, The National Restaurant Association estimates that the majority of restaurant workers around the country have already been fired or furloughed.
While the total number is not known, the association said that a recent survey of 6,500 restaurants revealed that more than 8 million workers have been affected, about four in ten restaurants have already closed, and that the industry expects to lose $240 billion by the end of the year.
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