PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is getting about $40 million in federal relief funding to address the ongoing hunger crisis that has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said Monday.
The money will be used to help with the distribution of boxes of food, bags of groceries, and nutritious meals for school age children, homebound seniors, and other vulnerable residents, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said in a statement.
Demand for food assistance at member agencies of the Rhode Island Food Bank has grown by 26% during the pandemic, officials said.
“The number of Rhode Islanders who don’t know where their next meal will come from has grown significantly during this pandemic," the Democrat said. “COVID-19 has created record demand and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank has risen to the challenge, offering assistance to over 68,000 people per month. But it needs help and the federal government is stepping up to deliver much needed assistance.”
Rhode Island Department of Health on Monday reported more than 900 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and two more deaths.
There have now been more than 139,000 known cases in the state and 2,629 fatalities.
Of the new cases, 767 were positive tests from Friday, Saturday or Sunday and the remainder were positive tests from previous days.
The department does not update on weekends.
The number of people in the state's hospitals with the disease was 144 as of Saturday, the same as the previous day.
The state has given out almost 375,000 first doses of a vaccine, while almost 257,000 people in the state have been fully vaccinated.
More help is on the way for renters in Rhode Island struggling to pay their bills because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The program is now is now accepting applications to help both renters and landlords.
It is funded through $200 million in federal rent relief funds. Applicants are eligible for up to 12 months of help and there is no monthly cap on relief.
The program can also help with past due utilities.
Call center staff will be available to help people who have questions or need assistance starting Tuesday.
EXPANDED VACCINE ELIGIBILITY
Rhode Island residents age 50 and older became eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
In addition, three new vaccination sites are scheduled to open in Rhode Island this week in Westerly, East Providence and Johnston. They will be open for two days per week with an initial supply of 1,200 doses each.
The state plans to open up vaccines to residents who are 40 and up by April 12, and to all eligible adults by April 19.