Following the reports that ranchers and farmers have been dumping eggs, milk and food as demand from restaurants falls, California will start connecting those products to desperate food banks.
Gov. Newsom said some ranchers and farmers are experiencing a huge 50% decrease in demand. Food banks, on the other hand, are witnessing around 73% more demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. They want to address that specific mismatch.
The program is expected to move a minimum of 20 million pounds of quality, locally produced dairy, poultry and produce from farms to the food banks, said Newsom. Food will be given to 41 food banks, and will be distributed in each county all over the state.
Initially, the program has a funding of $3.6 million both from the private sector and the Department of Agriculture. According to Newsom, he has tapped Kat Taylor, a billionaire philanthropist, to head the partnership’s fundraising, which he wants to continue throughout the end of the year.
Taylor is the wife of Tom Steyer, a previous presidential candidate. She is currently leading the governor’s economic recovery team.
Moreover, Newsom announced efforts to help expand good access for low-income Californians. The state will start paying $365 per child. This is for low-income families whose kids usually qualify for reduced or free meals at school. He estimated that about $1.4 billion will be paid to help 3.8 million children.
Families with kids who are eligible for Medi-Cal, CalFresh and other foster care benefits would be mailed benefit cards automatically. Those who qualify for reduced or free school meals can apply starting in late May.
According to the governor, a second waiver will allow people under the CalFresh, the state’s food program, to start using their debit cards to order their necessities from Amazon and Walmart.
Gov. Newsome said during this difficult time, putting food on the table is hard for many families. This is the reason they are expanding their farm-to-family program, while working to connect those low-income families with financial support and vital resources. They are thanking their farmers for donating fresh produce to food banks.
YCFB (The Yolo County Food Bank) has witnessed a huge increase in demand due to COVID-19, Michael Bisch, its YCFB Executive Director said. YCFB was serving around 25,000 people back in February. Now, they are serving over 45,000 people each month. YCFB gets around 25% of their food supply through the farm-to-family program.
Bisch said this boost can make a huge impact in Yolo County’s communities. About 128 ranchers and farmers are already donating to this program. Now, another 200 have expressed their support and interest in participating.