Seattle to give $800 grocery vouchers to families in need during coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus
A shopper wearing a face mask returns to his car with goods from a Walmart Neighborhood Market as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 16, 2020 in Levittown, New York. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A shopper wearing a face mask returns to his car with goods from a Walmart Neighborhood Market as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 16, 2020 in Levittown, New York. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Seattle officials will provide more than 6,000 families with $800 each in grocery vouchers for Safeway stores as Washington state’s biggest city faces the coronavirus crisis, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday.

The $5 million program will benefit “eligible families who are currently enrolled in City-supported child care programs and food assistance programs,” Durkan said in a statement.

“As schools and child care facilities close, we need to do everything we can to support families and ensure they can put food on the table,” the mayor said.

The grocery vouchers will be distributed in two $400 installments by mail as early as this week, the statement added.

The vouchers will allow recipients to buy food and household goods but not tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets or fuel, the mayor’s office said. Voucher use will also require a free Safeway membership, which residents can access right away at any Safeway.

“I am heartened the City will be able to provide assistance for our most vulnerable families, regardless of status, to food access,” Council President Lorena González said in the statement.

Washington has been among hardest hit US states, with more than 900 “presumptive positive” cases by early Tuesday, which trailed only New York’s more than 1,300 cases.

The state has already mandated closures of all schools across the state.

After downplaying the severity of the coronavirus outbreak for weeks, President Trump admitted publicly that the virus is “not under control for any place in the world” Monday. The White House unveiled a 15-day plan to slow down the surge of new infections, including advising the public to avoid groups of more than 10 — and to avoid all restaurants and bars.

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