On Sept. 7, the UFCW applauded the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for launching the Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program to help farm and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs. The first of its kind, the FFWR grant program will distribute $700 million in grant funding to meatpacking and farm workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the amount of $600 per recipient. As part of this $700 million grant funding, there is also a $20 million pilot program for grocery workers.
This new USDA grant program recognizes the incredible service and sacrifices of our country’s essential food workers by providing the critical financial support for expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as costs for personal protective equipment, dependent care, and expenses associated with pandemic-related quarantines and testing.
“America’s meatpacking and grocery workers have been on the front lines since the pandemic began, risking their health every day to keep our food supply secure during this crisis,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “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.”
“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,” Perrone added. “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 child care costs, take on expenses from COVID-19 testing and quarantining, and much more. 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, the 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.”
“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,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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.”
The UFCW’s Legislative and Political Action Department (LAPAD) is working hard to secure more funding to cover our grocery members in this program. The LAPAD is also continuing its work with locals to secure premium pay funds that are sent to states so that even more members can benefit.