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Ducey announces COVID-19 funding for food banks, homeless shelters

Members of the Arizona National Guard pack and sort food items at a food bank Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Mesa, Ariz. The Guard was at the food bank performing one of their first missions since they were activated by Gov. Doug Ducey to bolster the supply chain for food amid surging demand in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced an initial $6.7 million in funding to support local food banks, nutrition programs and programs that serve the homeless on Monday.

“Across our state, Arizonans are uniting to support one another and help those most in need,” Ducey said in the press release. “These dollars will bolster those efforts by expanding homeless services and strengthening food security through investments in Arizona food banks.”

The funding comes from the $50 million COVID-19 relief package signed into law Saturday.

As part of the assistance, $5 million will go towards assisting homeless shelters with temporary isolation and quarantine housing, sanitation supplies and services and other direct resources as needed.

Additionally, Ducey has directed the Arizona Department of Housing, Arizona Department of Economic Security and Arizona Department of Administration to work with public and private-sector partners to make sure the state’s homeless population is taken care of.

The relief will also provide $1.75 million to improve food security in Arizona. This includes immediate food bank assistance, expanding the state’s “Double-Up” food bucks program and assistance to the Arizona Produce Purchasing Program.

“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,” Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Arizona Food Bank Network, said in the release.

The bulk of the money will be distributed by the Department of Economic Security to enhance existing food bank infrastructure.

The Double-Up bucks program will receive $500,000.

It allows Arizonans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to get a $1 match from the state for every dollar they spend on Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, $250,000 will go to the Arizona Purchasing Program, better known as Farm to Food Bank.

That program provides those in need with fresh produce, eggs, chicken and pork. It also provides a market for local producers to support their employees and communities.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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