California governor focuses on connecting farms with food banks to avoid waste

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday focused on farmworkers and food banks, announcing he wants to connect the dots in the chain so that food won't go to waste.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in mid-March, Newsom said there has been a 50% decrease in agricultural demand, mostly because restaurants have been shut down. At the same time, food banks have seen a 73% increase in demand.  

“We want to address that mismatch. We want to address the supply and demand,” Newsom said.

Currently, 128 farmers and ranchers are providing food to 41 food banks in 58 counties.

Newsom said the goal would be to provide 21 million pounds of fresh food and produce on a monthly basis to food banks throughout the state to feed those in need. He said they had raised $3.6 million so far.  

He did not specify how this arrangement would work. The New York Times profiled situations where it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get all the food grown on farms to the right places because of logistical hurdles. 

The farm-to-food bank effort is a partnership of federal and state governments, along with philanthropists.

Some other highlights Newsom announced:

  • Farmworkers will get a 15 percent tax credit.
  • Families, where children would have gotten free or reduced lunch at school, can now get $365 more in meal assistance.
  • The federal government has given have given "rather significant" waiver letting CalFresh users buy food online from Amazon and Walmart.

Newsom's comments will come shortly after the majority of Bay Area counties issued an extended shelter-in-place order through May 31.


However, with the extension, also came some relaxation of the previous order, first issued on March 16. Those relaxations include: 

All construction will be permitted, with safety protocols.

Golf, tennis, landscaping and gardening will also be allowed, and children will be able to meet in groups of 12 or fewer for recreational or educational purposes.

Bay Area shelter-in-place order extended through May 31, some rules relaxed

This story was reported in Oakland, Calif.