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Senior Meal Program Saves Struggling Restaurants Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Meals are prepared inside the Trails Eatery in San Carlos, May 18, 2020.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Meals are prepared inside the Trails Eatery in San Carlos, May 18, 2020.

The Great Plates Delivered program kicked off over the weekend. Using federal, state and county funds it gets meals to seniors from local restaurants during the pandemic.

"As soon as I heard about it I realized that this could be a game-changer for us," said Stacey Poon-Kinney who owns The Trails Eatery in the San Carlos neighborhood.

Before COVID-19 the Trails Eatery relied almost entirely on dine-in sales.

"The pandemic has been really tough on us," Poon-Kinney said. "We’re just bleeding money."

When the pandemic first hit the restaurant closed for seven weeks and only recently reopened for take-out only.

"It’s been hit or miss," Poon-Kinney said. "Either we’re really slow or really busy. And that’s really tough because we have to prepare food, I have to put labor on."

Senior Meal Program Saves Struggling Restaurants Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The Trails Eatery has picked up 20 clients who are part of the program so far. Each senior gets three meals delivered to them each day.

The goal of Great Plates Delivered is to help seniors in need during the outbreak while also giving extra business to struggling restaurants.

"And it’s helping our local farmers because they’re (county health officials) requiring us to buy from local farmers, which is super awesome, so it’s a win-win-win," Poon-Kinney said.

Restaurants can be reimbursed up to $66 a day per client. Meals have to be nutritious and must include fruits or vegetables.

The program is currently scheduled to end June 10th, but could be extended. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the program on April 24, but it took counties time to figure out how to make it work.

"Now that it’s going I really hope that there’s funding for it to continue past June 10th," Poon-Kinney said.

More than two eateries across the county are signed up for the program. Restaurants like Social Tap in downtown San Diego has gotten 10 clients signed up as of Monday.

"Everything helps these days the local restaurants that are still open," said Social Tap owner Brant Crenshaw.

Great Plates Delivered is designed for seniors who aren’t using other meal assistance programs like CalFresh or Meals on Wheels. People can sign up by calling 2-1-1 or clicking here.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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