UFCW applauds USDA pandemic relief funds for food industry workers

New $700 million grant program to defray expenses incurred due to COVID-19


Russell Redman, Supermarket News

Sep 08, 2021


United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in announcing $700 million in relief funding for food industry workers to help cover pandemic-related health and safety costs.


USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program Tuesday in a press call with UFCW International President Marc Perrone and United Farm Workers Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. The funds are aimed at defraying costs to farm, meatpacking and frontline grocery workers for “reasonable and necessary” personal, family or living expenses incurred due to COVID-19, such as costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), dependent care, and quarantine- and testing-related expenditures.


Also, USDA noted that $20 million of the $700 million has been set aside for at least one pilot program to support grocery workers and test options for reaching them in the future. These funds “recognize the essential role and costs borne by frontline grocery workers,” the department said.


The FFWR program is funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and is part of USDA’s $4 billlion “Build Back Better” initiative to bolster and transform the nation’s food system in the wake of supply chain disruptions triggered by the pandemic...