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FEMA Update: Feeding Your Community

Feb 18, 2021 10:06:27 AM

Increased FEMA reimbursements are a lifeline for local restaurants and hungry residents

During natural disasters, World Central Kitchens, led by chef/humanitarian José Andrés, partners with local restaurants in impacted areas to create fresh meals for hungry folks. For more than a decade, WCK has shown up offering meals to National Guard members during the Inauguration, the bombing in Beirut, and Texas during Hurricane Laura. And that's just in the past year.And now, the not-for-profit organization has successfully advocated for increased FEMA reimbursements to state and local governments looking to provide food to struggling folks during the pandemic. All during the pandemic, the organization has partnered with local restaurants to provide meals, while at the same time, providing a stream of income that has kept some small businesses afloat.

Last spring, Boston-based catering company Phinix Kitchens saw its revenues virtually evaporate, but it still wanted to help struggling families. Through WCK, Phinix has been able to recoup about 40-60% of its regular revenues through providing packaged meals to families and frontline workers. Read the full story from the Boston Globe.

And now, that kind of partnership can scale up through additional FEMA reimbursements via the memorandum signed by the Biden administration on February 2. It immediately delivers on a similar proposal stalled in Congress last year. Successful Farming reports that, “in one scenario, nonprofits like World Central Kitchen would serve as intermediaries between the hospitality industry and the public sector, paying restaurants and handling the administrative, back-end details with governments. But restaurants also could choose to work directly with their state and local governments.”

This kind of program represents the perfect win-win-win situation. Chiefly, hungry people get food. But when it’s provided by local foodservice operations, that gives those small businesses a much-needed lifeline that’s been few and far between. And, ultimately, it’s a relief for local governments already struggling with crunched budgets and fewer staff to manage such programs.

Does your local government have a feeding program in place that could benefit from additional FEMA reimbursements? Are you developing a public-private partnership to keep stomachs full and restaurants hanging on? Share your ideas with other Local Leaders in the comments.

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Shylo Bisnett

Written by Shylo Bisnett

Shylo Bisnett is a Content Marketing Specialist at Azavar and Localgov. In addition to managing a career as a freelance strategic writer, she also founded and chaired a local not-for-profit organization geared toward building relationships among residents, elected officials, and non-governmental organizations.