Today (Thursday, Dec. 3), the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness announced a 30-day extension of the City’s COVID-19 Meal Assistance Program, which delivers twice-daily, restaurant-made meals to residents in need. Funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been approved through at least December 31, bringing the program into its sixth month.
“We know that because of COVID-19, many of our residents continue to be unable to put food on their tables,” said NOHSEP Director Collin Arnold. “We’ve been able to show great success in the last five months and I’m so grateful that our partnership with FEMA will allow this program to continue over the holiday season and in this winter surge.”
This first-of-its-kind program serves New Orleans residents impacted by COVID-19, including seniors, high-risk health individuals, residents who are COVID positive or are quarantining due to potential exposure, homeless residents, and children under 18. Currently, there are just under 11,000 residents enrolled in the program receiving free daily meals and there is plenty of capacity for new participants.
Residents may be eligible for meals if they are in any of the following categories and are not receiving any other federal food support (including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)):
- Seniors age 65 and above
- Adults with high-risk health conditions and special medical needs (Examples include pregnancy, smoking, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, obesity, cancer, compromised immune system, kidney disease, liver disease, HIV, AIDS, Sickle cell disease, and more.)
- Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed and require isolation or quarantine
- Homeless residents
- Children under 18
To apply, go to ready.nola.gov/meals or call 3-1-1.
“What’s unique about this program is that the meals are being produced by local restaurants and home delivered,” said Chef’s Brigade founder and Executive Director Troy Gilbert. “It truly is an emergency financial lifeline to many in our beloved and culturally important restaurant industry, whether that’s restaurants and their kitchen staff, purveyors or independent chefs.”
To date, 80 local restaurants through the Chef’s Brigade coalition have been producing meals, which are organized and stored by the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI), packaged by Revolution Foods, and delivered by d’livery NOLA. Low-sodium and diabetic-friendly meals are also available and are being produced by Revolution Foods. This program has re-employed at least 500 New Orleanians who may have otherwise been out of work due to the pandemic in food production alone. Additional jobs have been created in the delivery and administration components of the program. For a report on the financial impacts of the program on the restaurant industry produced by Chef’s Brigade, visit chefsbrigadenola.org.