In partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the City of New Orleans recently announced that the COVID-19 Meal Assistance Program will continue through at least Mar. 1, 2021, bringing the program into its eighth month. Funding for the program’s extension was approved by FEMA, which covers 75 percent of its cost. The City provides the remaining 25 percent.
This emergency food program serves New Orleans residents by reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 exposure for at-risk residents, including seniors, high-risk health individuals, residents who are COVID positive or are quarantining, homeless residents, and children under 18. The meal program delivers free, twice-daily, restaurant-made meals to New Orleanians in need. Currently, there are over 11,000 residents enrolled and there is plenty of capacity for new participants.
You may be eligible for meals if you are in any of the following categories and you 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.
To date, 85 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.
“Permanent closure has been a constant threat since April. Partnering with the Meal Assistance Program has saved us many times, mostly recently with the program’s extension through February,” states Clare Leavy, the owner and chef at Live Oak Cafe. “This program has given us more than a means to survive, it has given us a mission and we are proud and grateful to have work worth doing.”
“The meal program has been 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,” said Chef’s Brigade founder and Executive Director Troy Gilbert.
According to a survey done by The Chef’s Brigade of the participating restaurants, the meal 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.
Restaurants that would like to join in this effort should use the form found on the Chef’s Brigade website: chefsbrigadenola.org/become-a-restaurant-partner.