It's one of the silver linings of a pandemic and economic crisis: innovative solutions and partnerships. One such innovation—meant to help provide economic stimulus to restaurants and help seniors who are staying home and still need to eat—is the state's Great Plates Delivered program, announced on April 24 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

Restaurants can sign up to prepare three hot meals a day, and delivery drivers bring them to the home of a qualified senior. Restaurants are reimbursed $60 for the three meals, and $6 for daily delivery costs. (That $60 figure is based on what state employees get as a per diem while traveling, in normal times.)

In Monterey County, the city of Seaside is the first to get approved by state officials to administer Great Plates, and it starts Monday, May 11. The program is set to run through June 10. 

Googie Grill will be providing the food four days a week, and Angelina's Bakery will do three days a week. If enrollment goes up, the city may bring other restaurants on board. 

Jen Kadosh of Googie Grill was the first restaurant to call county officials about the program.

"It was very exciting, because I want to help the community as much as I can," Kadosh says. "But the part that really affects me is my employees. Obviously with the downturn, you can't employ everyone; you can't pay them because the money is not coming in. I just hope this will give us an opportunity to get more of our staff working."

So far, 41 restaurants in Monterey County have expressed interest in participating in Great Plates.  

Other local cities are also interested in administering programs like Seaside, and may come on board as the state processes applications in the coming days and partner up with some of those 41 restaurants.

For seniors in unincorporated Monterey County, the Area Agency on Aging is working on getting state approval to administer Great Plates. 

"It's a program for seniors and really a program for restaurants," says Kathleen Murray-Phillips of the AAA. "It's a win-win. The states are considering it a stimulus program for restaurants to help them stay in business."

There are specific nutrition requirements for meals spelled out on the state website. 

You are eligible to enroll if: You are 65 or older, earn between $24,000 and $74,000, live alone or with only one other qualifying individual, and can't prepare your own meals. People ages 60-64 are eligible if they meet those criteria and also have an underlying condition that puts them at a high risk for Covid-19. 

To sign up for Seaside's program (for eligible Seaside residents only), contact  Blanca Diaz at 899-6809 or bdiaz@ci.seaside.ca.us.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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