Santa Ana, California – Fewer people in Orange County will go hungry.
On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved $250,000 to expand the County’s Restaurant Meals Program, which provides meals to homeless, elderly and disabled residents who may otherwise go hungry.
“Orange County is dedicating more resources to our most vulnerable communities,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “Even here in prosperous Orange County, many struggle to access basic needs. We’re doing something to change that.”
Since February, Orange County has operated a pilot project that allows CalFresh participants to purchase meals from local restaurants in Santa Ana and Anaheim. More than three dozen Orange County restaurants have provided approximately 6,000 meals under the program.
As part of the County’s homeless System of Care, the program provides a necessary safeguard for people who lack reliable access to CalFresh grocery retailers, are unable to cook for themselves, or live without a kitchen. Over 14,000 participants in the Restaurant Meals Program identify themselves as homeless.
Supervisor Do directed County staff to bring back plans to expand access to CalFresh for low-income families who don’t have means to store or prepare food or who may have limited access to grocery stories, farmers markets, and other providers of healthy food and instead depend on "quickie marts," which offer processed, sugar- and fat-laden foods .
Meals for the Most Vulnerable OC Residents, Boost for OC Businesses
In December of 2016, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the pilot project, which began in Anaheim and Santa Ana. Tuesday’s action provides a quarter-million dollars in additional funding to expand the program countywide. The expansion is projected to increase the number of participating restaurants to 150.
“When we asked participating restaurants how they felt about the program, 90% said they would recommend it to other restaurant owners,” said Chairman Do. “This program works and I am proud to see it expand Countywide.”
County staff has worked with OC Food Safety Advisory Council and Orange County Food Access Coalition to educate the community about the program. Once the program reaches 150 restaurants, the Social Services Agency will reassess the next steps in expanding the program.
A Holistic Approach: Building a System of Care
This program comes on the heels of two important new developments: the approval of Orange County’s Landlord Incentive Program and the allocation of $25 million in additional funding for permanent supportive housingcoupled with the greenlighting if three new housing developments.
Orange County’s new Landlord Incentive Program will remove financial barriers – from leasing expenses, holding fees, application expense reimbursement, damage claims assistance, security deposits and more – for landlords who make units available to rent to homeless individuals in the County’s housing programs. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved $250,000 to fund United to End Homelessness’ Landlord Incentive Program, which will build upon the initiative’s partnership with Schroeder Management Company. The program will provide 40 to 55 housing placements over the next year through the pilot.
The three new permanent supportive housing projects will add 84 new units for people who meet the criteria for special needs housing and are backed by a 20-year commitment from the County to provide support services, including mental health treatment and services. In addition to the new housing projects, county officials dedicated $25 million in Mental Health Services Act funding to spur production of more supportive housing.