Governor Doug Ducey today announced an initial $6.7 million in funding to support Arizona food banks, nutrition programs and programs that serve the homeless. The dollars are part of a $50 million COVID-19 relief package signed into law over the weekend by Governor Ducey and will have an immediate impact for Arizona’s most at-risk communities.
“Arizona is committed to using every tool in our tool kit to stretch our safety net in this unprecedented time,” said Governor Ducey. “Across our state, Arizonans are uniting to support one another and help those most in need. These dollars will bolster those efforts by expanding homeless services and strengthening food security through investments in Arizona food banks. Arizona is grateful to everyone in the private and non-profit sectors who have partnered with us to bring support to our most vulnerable.”
Arizona’s bipartisan state budget agreement establishes the Emergency Crisis Contingency and Safety Net Fund. These resources are to be allocated by the Governor’s Office to provide direct relief to communities most impacted by COVID-19.
Included in this funding, $5 million will go toward assisting homeless shelters in the prevention and slowing of the spread of COVID-19. This includes assisting with:
- Temporary isolation and quarantine housing;
- Sanitation supplies and services;
- And other direct resources as needed.
The Governor also has directed the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH), the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), and the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to join together to work with public and private-sector partners to help ensure our homeless community has clean and safe housing arrangements.
“These critical funds come at a time of tremendous uncertainty, particularly for individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Human Services Campus, Inc. Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender. “We are adapting our campus daily to protect the health and safety of the men and women receiving services, including elderly and those with ongoing health challenges, and our incredible staff on the front lines every day. We are deeply grateful for Governor Ducey’s support in those efforts.”
In addition, Governor Ducey is dedicating $1.75 million to improve food security in Arizona. This includes:
- $1 million in immediate food bank assistance to be distributed by the Department of Economic Security to enhance existing food bank infrastructure.
- $500,000 to expand Arizona’s “Double-Up” Food Bucks program, which allows Arizonans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance to get a $1 match from the State for every $1 they spend on Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables, up to an additional $20 per day. Private-sector partners have also announced that they will contribute $500,000 to the “Double-up program, bringing program capacity to $1 million.
- $250,000 for the Arizona Produce Purchasing Program, known as the “Farm To Food Bank” program. Through a partnership between the Arizona Food Bank Network, the Department of Economic Security, and the Department of Agriculture along with agricultural partners, this program provides those in need with fresh produce, eggs, chicken, and pork, and provides a market for local producers to support their employees and communities.
“We are very fortunate in Arizona to have a diverse farming and ranching industry right here in our backyard,” said Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse. “We have large commercial growers keeping the dairy and meat cases, as well as the vegetable bins, stocked at your local grocer while unprecedented demand puts stress on our food system. We also have farm to plate growers in many neighborhoods providing that valuable direct sale connection to Arizonans. We are so pleased that Governor Ducey included our local market growers in this much needed aid package which will help both the farmers stay afloat and Arizonans access fresh food stuffs from local food banks. Not having their regular markets and restaurants open to reach customers directly has been a great stress on these growers.”
“This additional investment will help us both support small, local agriculture; while at the same time, help provide fresh, healthy produce and protein for Arizonans visiting food banks right now," said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Arizona Food Bank Network.
"Arizona farmers and ranchers stand ready to do their part during these uncertain times," said Phil Bashaw, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation Chief Executive Officer and Executive Secretary. "Thank you to Governor Ducey for expanding the Farm to Food Bank program so we can feed communities across the state with our members’ quality, local farm products.""Challenging times hit our most vulnerable communities and local businesses hardest,” said Mercy Care Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Charlton Wilson. “We’re grateful for Governor Ducey’s leadership. We are proud to have been the first health plan in Arizona to recognize this need and step up to provide funding to the Double Up Food Bucks Arizona program. The Governor's commitment makes sure no Arizonan is left behind during this crisis in our state and in our country."
If direct market growers want to connect with their local food banks to sell their product, they should go to Friends of the Farm. Additionally, for more information about Arizona’s COVID-19 response efforts, click HERE. Finally, for Arizona families looking to purchase directly from farmers and ranchers, Arizona Farm Bureau's Fill Your Plate is a good resource.
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