Food & Justice News Mar 16, 2020
You probably have heard or already experienced most of the new restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak. We’ve included in this issue as well as stuff you already heard, some lesser discussed issues and resources relevant to our current crisis:
- Local Resources available in Los Angeles:
- LAUSD Family Resource Centers And Grab-And-Go Meals:
- Mayor Assures Grocery Stores Will Be Stocked
- Trump Decision To Cut SNAP Stopped By Court, Partly Due to Coronavirus:
- House Bill To Help Americans Held Up By Republican Rep Louis Gohmert
- Truck Drivers Delivering Emergency Goods Can Drive More Hours
- What About Incarcerated People During This Crisis?
- Farmers Markets Will Stay Open With Some Modification
- Keep Up Demand For Sick Days Because House Bill Doesn’t Cover It All
- Guidelines for Unhoused Angelenos And Demands for City and County of LA
Local Resources available in Los Angeles:
A dedicated group of volunteers has been compiling a list of food*, housing, health, transportation, and education resources for the coronavirus crisis, divided into three general categories: children and youth, adults, and elderly. Please view this link:
Everytable is offering meals to EVERYONE. Food distribution for seniors who need food brought to their homes. Food available for students. Food distribution centers that can distribute food to a group of people. If you need 10-10,000 meals, reach out to Everytable at (323) 458 - 6487. For more info, click here!
El Torito is offering kids free meals:
The Dream Center is serving school kids. From their website: “Just show up between 7:30am-6:30pm. Come stress and worry-free. Safety and making sure everyone is served is our priority. As Pastor @matthewbarnett1 said, the more awkward time you show up, the better. Food will be ready to go minute by minute. Help spread the word by sharing and tagging those in need.”
LAUSD Family Resource Centers And Grab-And-Go Meals:
Starting Wednesday, March 18, from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, LA Unified School District will provide meals, supervision, and instruction at 40 family resource centers and 20 grab-and-go meal locations. The “grab and go” is to keep crowds from accumulating and maintain “social distancing” while ensuring kids get fed. The list of locations hasn’t been posted. We will keep you advised once we get that list. Here is a link where they will likely be published:
Mayor Assures Grocery Stores Will Be Stocked
In the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday grocery stores will continue to be stocked in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and he urged people to remain calm and avoid hoarding.
Trump Decision To Cut SNAP Stopped By Court, Partly Due to Coronavirus:
The Trump administration change to SNAP which would require able-bodied adults from age 18 through 49 with no dependent kids or disabilities to work 20 hours per week or have SNAP food benefits limited to 3 months, is being held up by a court injunction that was influenced by both the coronavirus outbreak and by outstanding testimony from some of our officials here in California
Last night, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell issued the injunction on the rule which would have been initiated April 1. (Strictly speaking, the rule already exists, but the Trump proposal would have severely restricted waivers from the rule used by many states especially during tough times.)
House Bill To Help Americans Held Up By Republican Rep Louis Gohmert
As of this writing, the House of Representatives is working on legislation that includes free coronavirus testing, even for the uninsured, two weeks of paid sick leave paid family and medical leave and funding for food security initiatives including SNAP and assistance for senior. Medicaid funding is also in the bill. But the bill is held up by one person, Republican Representative Louis Gohmert. As with the Senate, the House has obscure rules that allow one person to hold up urgent legislation regardless of how many people will die. Hopefully, by the time you read this the impasse is over.
Truck Drivers Delivering Emergency Goods Can Drive More Hours
As you join the lines of people jamming supermarkets or hopping from one to another for scarce items, be sure to thank everyone in the food chain that is working long stressful hours to bring that to you. That includes truck drivers who have now been given permission by Trump to drive as long as they want if the cargo is in one of several emergency categories including food. The laws regulating trucker hours have been in place since 1938 and are often suspended in emergencies. Many truckers actually don’t like the laws, but are we trading one emergency for another if tired drivers are on the road?
What About Incarcerated People During This Crisis?
Prisoners are being worked at 65 cents per hour to make hand sanitizer that they’re not allowed to use because it contains alcohol. Many in prison haven’t been sentenced and with the virus outbreak, court schedules are backing up. The result could be a disaster. The U.S. also has a lot of prisoners ― per capita, more than any other country in the world. The 2.3 million incarcerated people. And, a large number are now in the high-risk elderly group.
“The bottom line: Jails and prisons could become hotbeds for infection if public health officials and correctional facility administrators don’t act quickly to put measures in place to diminish that prospect. “
Farmers Markets Will Stay Open With Some Modification
From an LA Times piece by David Karp:
“According to official guidelines published Sunday evening by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, “to ensure that fresh food is available to residents,” outdoor certified farmers markets will be allowed to operate under these main conditions:
- Only “whole uncut produce and packaged food” can be sold; no booths that prepare food on-site, such as taco or barbecue stands, can operate. (Foods prepared and packaged at off-site commercial kitchens appear to be permitted.)
- No sampling of unpackaged food is permitted.
- Market managers must ensure that “crowds are staggered to ensure for social distancing of customers,” and allow space between stands.
- Markets must provide handwashing stations and signs reminding customers to wash their hands and the produce they buy.”
Keep Up Demand For Sick Days Because House Bill Doesn’t Cover It All
In an exasperated attempt to get the Republicans, who are apparently more concerned for business’ bottom line than for the health of workers, to support a package of aid to the American people, the Democrats have even reduced the number who would get paid sick leave in the emergency bill to 20% of workers.
That means we still need to push for paid sick leave, particularly for food workers who are often excluded from labor protections. Restaurant Opportunities Center United has created a petition, and urge you to call on all corporate-owned restaurant chains, including Dine Brands (Applebee’s and IHOP), Bloomin’ (Outback Steakhouse), Brinker (Chili’s), Cracker Barrel, and Denny’s, to immediately implement paid sick leave. Together, in this time of public health crisis, let’s push for emergency paid sick days that these food chains must provide.
Guidelines for Unhoused Angelenos And Demands for City and County of LA
The Services Not Sweeps coalition has outlined the following Coronavirus guidelines and demands for houseless Angelenos to the City and County of Los Angeles. We believe that during this public health crisis the City and County have thus far failed to provide for our most vulnerable, unhoused populations. Full statement below, and don't hesitate to reach out for comment.