Orange County to Launch $5 Million Meal Gap Program 

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

OC Board of Supervisors at their May 2019 meeting.

Orange county is launching a new nutritional meal gap program for seniors following criticism from county officials that a statewide meal delivery program is falling short. 


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The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved $5 million dollars in federal Coronavirus relief money to split between the five districts in the county to pay for a nutritional meal gap program for seniors and people with disabilities.

“During this COVID-19 crisis, we have seen a drastic increase in demand for our existing senior nutrition program,” said Dylan Wright, Director of OC Community resources at Tuesday’s meeting. “We have also seen demand for the Great Plates Program.”

The Great Plates Delivered program is a statewide initiative launched by Gov. Gavin Newsom in late April with the purpose of getting meals to adults 65 and older as well as high risk seniors while supporting local restaurants and food providers suffering economically from business closures.

Supervisor Don Wagner criticized the state’s delay in providing guidelines on how to implement the program. There were also concerns about the cost of the Great Plates Program at Tuesday’s county supervisors’ public meeting.

“The cost of Great Plates is not low. It is fairly expensive,” Wright said. We believe we could do it more cost effectively than the state program and we’d like to start with discussions to identify potential vendors to provide that gap coverage.”

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the Great Plates Program costs $66 per person per day. 

The state program is set to end in June and it is still not known if the state plans to continue funding it.

Before approving the program, the board debated whether the money be split by district or used regionally. 

Supervisors Andrew Do, who said his district had a large population in need, initially argued against divvying the money equally by district before voting in favor of it.

“I would recommend that we take out the reference to each member of the board and take out the breakdown of a million dollar per district and just run it like any other social services program you have now, which is wherever the needs are, you go there,” Do said.

Bartlett argued in favor of dividing up the money by district.

“I think it needs to be broken down by district as this isn’t just for the indigent population. This is for the elderly at risk, who may want to stay at home, they don’t want to get COVID. They’re afraid to go out,” Bartlett said.

The majority of the Supervisors also questioned if $5 million would be enough to even address the need in the county.

Wright said the $5 million was just a starting point and that they’d return to ask for more funding if it was insufficient.

“We recognize that there are a lot of people, not only seniors, not only those disabled, but potentially others within the population who are experiencing food insecurity,” Wright said. “But the goal here is to establish some funding.”

For anybody in need of food there are pantries across the county handing it out for free.

These include:

Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County 

Every Saturday from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. at the Honda Center

2695 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806

Power of One Foundation

Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the OC Fair Grounds

88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

The Vineyard Anaheim Church

Every Wednesday and Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the church. 

5340 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92807

Laguna Food Pantry

Monday-Friday 8:00 am-10:30 am

20652 Laguna Canyon Road Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Yorba Linda Community Center

Every Thursday 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

4501 Casa Loma Avenue Yorba Linda, CA 92886

The Salvation Army Southern California

Monday, Thursday 2-4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Friday 10:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

1515 West North Street Anaheim, CA 92801

Or

Tuesday and Thursday 1-3 p.m.

10200 Pioneer Road Tustin, CA 92782

United Across Borders Foundation

Saturday May 23 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

235 S Pine Dr. Fullerton, CA 92833

For more food assistance options visit 211 OC.

If you operate a drive through food pantry in Orange County and would like our newsroom to be aware of your efforts, reach out to Hosam Elattar at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.