WACO, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has produced many challenges for all sectors of our state’s economy. Many restaurants closed or reduced operating hours, Depression-era lines formed at food banks, and we experienced a breakdown in the food supply chain unlike anything in our lifetimes. This created a ripple effect that negatively impacted agriculture, the restaurant industry, and most importantly, our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
As Americans struggle through uncertainty, there has never been a more critical time for leaders to work together and provide common-sense solutions to tackle these challenges. Thankfully, Texas’ own Sen. John Cornyn is a leader who has stepped up to the plate.
Sens. Cornyn and Chris Murphy (Conn.) have introduced bipartisan legislation called the “State Emergency Restaurant and Vendor Enhancement and COVID-19 Anti-Hunger Restaurant Relief for You” Act, known as the “SERVE and CARRY Act.” The bill would provide states with additional options to help low-income and unemployed Americans access food, put people back to work, give our food banks relief, and help restore the food supply chain.
The legislation allows nutrition assistance to low-income and unemployed Americans to be used at restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, under this bill, a family who normally spends Friday night waiting in a long line at the food bank after a week of fruitless job searching would be able to carry out a hot meal from the restaurant up the street. Meanwhile, the restaurant worker, sitting at home uncertain of their future, would have the chance to work a shift paid for by that family’s meal. Exhausted food bank workers would receive some relief too.
The food service and restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, about half of all food in the United States was purchased outside the home. Overnight, one-half of the two-lane food highway was shut down, causing a serious traffic jam. This caused a backup in the food supply chain that hurt farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to sell and transport their crops and livestock. Also, roughly 200,000 Texans are out of work due to closures and reduced occupancy rates at restaurants.
The SERVE and CARRY Act will help get the food supply chain back on track, assist restaurants, put folks back to work, feed struggling Americans, and make a positive impact on our local communities.
Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Restaurant Association and Feeding Texas are pleased to partner in helping promote the SERVE and CARRY Act. We believe this legislation provides common-sense solutions and serves as a great example of various industries in Texas coming together during times of great difficulty to help those in need.
We commend Sens. Cornyn and Murphy for their hard work on this legislation and strongly support their efforts. We urge Congress to swiftly act on this legislation and include it in any future COVID-19 relief package.
Texas Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization representing over 529,000 member families. The Texas Restaurant Association represents the state’s $70 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 50,000 locations and a workforce of 1.3 million Texans. Feeding Texas is a statewide network of food banks leading a unified effort to end hunger in Texas.
— Texas Farm Bureau
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