Front-line pandemic workers to get $600 stimulus

HOUSTON (KIAH) – A competitive grant funding of $700 million is available through the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program to help farmworkers and meatpacking workers. The fund is intended to provide support for pandemic-related health and safety costs. Eligible entities must demonstrate the capacity to reimburse farmworkers and meatpacking workers for up to $600 for expenses incurred due to the coronavirus.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement in press call with United Farm Workers Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres and United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone. The essential role played by front-line grocery workers has been recognized by setting aside $20 million.

Support for grocery workers

This amount will be used for making at least one pilot program to support grocery workers in the future. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 is funding the new program and is part of USDA’s Build Back Better efforts. Relief will be provided to farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and front-line grocery workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Request for Application (RFA) will be announced in early Fall and will be open for 60 days. USDA will provide all information and technical assistance for applying to the program when the application period opens.

Unprecedented challenges

“As we celebrate the social and economic achievements of our nation’s workers on Labor Day, we recognize that our farmworkers, meat packing workers, and grocery workers overcame unprecedented challenges and took on significant personal risk to ensure Americans could feed and sustain their families throughout the pandemic,” Secretary Vilsack was quoted as saying by reports. “They deserve recognition for their resilience and financial support for their efforts to meet personal and family needs while continuing to provide essential services. This grant program is another component of this Administration’s efforts to ensure assistance to alleviate the effects of the pandemic is distributed to those who need it most.”

“This Labor Day, let us not forget the sacrifices farm workers made as essential workers in order to keep our food supply intact during the pandemic. And as we honor the contributions of workers across our nation, let’s show gratitude to the men and women who feed America and the world. The UFW Foundation worked tirelessly to advance legislation that would empower USDA to support farm workers throughout this pandemic,” said Diana Tellefson Torres, UFW Foundation Executive Director.

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