Lawmakers introduce bill backed by José Andrés to help restaurants, feed vulnerable
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill supported by celebrity chef José Andrés aimed at helping restaurants and feeding vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.
The FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act would have the federal government pay 100 percent of the cost for state and local governments to work with restaurants and nonprofits to prepare meals for populations including seniors and underprivileged children.
It would also aim to provide support for businesses and farmers as both struggle during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are partnering to introduce the legislation, they announced in a statement.
Harris, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, celebrated the bill as a way to address increasing food insecurity and support the restaurant and supplier industries.
“We need to ensure that states have maximum flexibility so that no one goes hungry during this pandemic,” she said in a statement.
Local partnerships would allow food to be distributed more quickly during the pandemic, Davis said.
“If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the need to innovate and that’s exactly what the FEED Act does,” he said.
The bill would waive the portion of the Stafford Act that typically limits the Federal Emergency Management Agency to paying 75 percent of emergency and disaster expenses. With the federal government fully funding the project, states and local governments can focus on the distribution of food to those in need and financial relief to restaurants, the lawmakers said.
“When we empower neighbors to care for one another, and restaurants and non-profits to ensure food and nutrition are not forgotten, we give our communities an opportunity to combine response with recovery to create the possibility of a better tomorrow,” Andrés said in a statement.
Andrés joined other political leaders including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), in a letter last week requesting a public-private partnership to develop a food distribution plan to prevent a surplus of food designated for restaurants, schools and hotels.
President Trump approved an executive order last week to keep meat processing plants operating during the pandemic to avoid meat shortages.