Among the many challenges that persist in our industry, there is still yet the pandemic and its repercussions to continue to contend with. As pandemic-related health and safety costs remain, the USDA has announced applications are now open to access an investment of $665 million through its new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program.
According to the department, the program will provide funds via competitive grant applications to provide relief to farmworkers and meatpacking workers who incurred pandemic-related health and safety costs. Eligible state agencies, tribal entities, and non-profit organizations serving farmworkers and meatpacking workers can apply now through February 8, 2022, at www.grants.gov for grants ranging from $5 million to $50 million.
“America’s meatpacking and grocery workers have been on the frontlines since the pandemic began, risking their health every day to keep our food supply secure during this crisis. This new USDA grant program recognizes the incredible service and sacrifices of our country’s essential food workers by providing the critical financial support they need,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone upon the announcement of the program last September. “Meatpacking plants experienced some of the most deadly COVID-19 outbreaks when the pandemic first began and there are few workers more deserving of our thanks and support. Across the country, meatpacking workers have had to use their own money to pay for personal protective equipment to stay safe on the job, shoulder the burden of increased childcare costs, take on expenses from COVID-19 testing and quarantining, and much more."
Perrone continued: "Grocery workers continue to face health risk during this COVID-19 Delta surge and the pilot program announced today is a strong step toward providing them with the assistance they and their families need. As the largest union for America's essential food workers, UFCW applauds the Biden Administration and Secretary Vilsack for investing in these critical programs that will support the brave men and women in meatpacking plants and grocery stores keeping our food supply chain strong as the pandemic continues.”
Desired participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance to the FFWR grant program at [email protected]. We wish all the best as the industry continues to work to beat the hurdles presented to it.