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Cities Step Up Programs to Feed the Hungry, Support Businesses, and Connect Students

May 6, 2020
Now in our seventh week under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, issued on March 19, cities are working to address the changing needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time providing essential services and planning for a gradual reopening of business.
TPico-RIvera-food-drive-line-of-cars-by-pop-ups.jpghe COVID-19 pandemic and public health response has affected small businesses and disadvantaged communities the most. Many cities have increased their efforts to help feed residents in need. The City of Pico Rivera partnered with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Labor Community Services to sponsor a Drive-Thru Food Giveaway to provide meals and food items to families in the San Gabriel Valley impacted by the crisis. As unemployment rises and people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, municipalities such as Pico Rivera are partnering with organizations to meet the growing demand. 
Pico-Rivera-volunteers-with-bags-of-food-for-drive.jpg“This program is one of many emergency response actions I plan to take throughout 2020. We know that this global pandemic will not be an isolated event, but we will be prepared to evolve and adapt through these uncertain times.” said Pico Rivera Mayor Gustavo Camacho. The City of Pico Rivera is also planning to launch a drive-thru testing site in the coming weeks that is estimated to test 2,500 people a week.
The City of Folsom is teaming up with the Twin Lakes Food Bank, faith-based, and nonprofit organizations to provide food and essential items for community members in need. Nineteen “Stop, Pop, and Go” drive-thru food drives are planned throughout Folsom. The city has completed nine food drives so far and collected 30,000 pounds of food.
Local businesses have also faced unprecedented effects during the pandemic and cities are supporting businesses by promoting takeout orders from restaurants and providing loans to support small businesses.
The City of Goleta rallied support for local restaurants with its Goleta to Go campaign, which encourages residents to order takeout or delivery from the 70 Goleta restaurants listed on the city’s website. The city hopes to further promote local businesses by asking community members to take a photo of themselves or their family getting takeout or delivery from a Goleta restaurant and submit it with a mention of their favorite menu item. Photos are shared on the City of Goleta’s Facebook and Instagram social media accounts
The City of Redlands is partnering with local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce in Shop It Forward, a local campaign encouraging Redlands residents to do their Christmas shopping now, buying gifts and services online from local businesses for pickup or delivery in December. While many local businesses are struggling with stay-at-home orders that have closed their doors and kept customers away, Shop It Forward seeks to provide income vital to keeping many businesses in operation and money circulating in the local economy until businesses can reopen.
“Local businesses are the backbone of Redlands,” said Redlands Council Member Toni Momberger. “They keep our economy thriving, and they have supported many in the community when times were good. It’s our time to help them.”
Getting residents to shop and order from local businesses during this time is essential, but many local businesses need additional financial assistance and cities are stepping up to provide whatever assistance they can to keep people in business for their communities.
The City of Poway has committed up to $2 million in one-time funds to create a Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loan (PEARL) Program. The objective of this program is to quickly offer financial assistance to independently owned and operated small businesses within the City of Poway to aid in maintaining their business and workforce.
The City of La Quinta rolled out a $1.5 million small business loan program to help local businesses stay afloat while stay-at-home orders are in place. The City of La Quinta is also partnering with the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce to provide free banners to businesses in La Quinta, so they can display “Open for Business” or “Delivery/Take Out” to let the community know they are open to serve essential services.
The stay-at-home order required schools to close and carry out distance learning, which presented issues for families who do not have access to internet at home. The City of Coachella is taking strides to remedy this issue by providing 3,000 wireless hot spots for students to access internet. The city worked with the Coachella Valley Unified School District on this initiative.
“Education is key to helping our children achieve a better future for themselves,” said Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez. “This is one way the city can bridge the digital divide and make sure no student falls behind because of a lack of internet service.”
As cities work to provide resources and information to their residents, the League continues to update the coronavirus resource and response webpage as a resource for city leaders. Daily updates on COVID-19 news, resources, and guidance specifically geared toward local officials will help local governments navigate the current situation and is updated as new developments occur.
Cities that would like to share the actions they have taken in response to coronavirus can contact the communications team at communications@cacities.org. If you have questions related to COVID-19, please send them to covid-19@cacities.org.

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