California initiative to deliver free meals to seniors is falling short so far

California
Mildred Stratton waves to a caravan of cars led by the Alhambra police and fire departments parading past her home, celebrating her 102nd birthday on May 20 in Alhambra.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Mildred Stratton waves to a caravan of cars led by the Alhambra police and fire departments parading past her home, celebrating her 102nd birthday on May 20 in Alhambra.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the start of an initiative last month to deliver free meals to California seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, he declared that “the universe of those eligible is certainly in the millions.”

“Even if it’s hundreds of thousands that take advantage of this, just in weeks you’ll see millions and millions of meals as part of this program,” the governor said at his April 24 news conference.

But nearly a month later, the Great Plates Delivered program has served only 16,377 seniors. Local leaders say delayed information from the state, the duplication of existing services to provide meals to seniors and questions about the government reimbursement have hampered the ability to quickly ramp up the program.

Federal funding for the program was also originally slated to end May 10, just two weeks after Newsom announced it — a possible deterrent for restaurants and municipalities to participate in what might have initially appeared to be a short-term effort.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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