Rabb: innovative solutions needed amid rising COVID-19 cases

Bipartisan bill would help restauranteurs while getting fresh food to people in need

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – While some rallied at the state Capitol today to push back on mitigation efforts and open more seating in restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise rapidly across the state and nation, state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., said bipartisan legislation he introduced offers a better solution to help these local businesses stay afloat while protecting people’s health.   

Rabb and state Rep. Bob Brooks, R-Westmoreland/Allegheny, introduced legislation (H.B. 2949) in September that would provide grants of up to $50,000 and tax credits of up to $100,000 to restauranteurs who sell PA Preferred groceries to customers in underserved neighborhoods. Funding for the Food Security Initiative would come from federal CARES Act money the state has in its possession and can use for this purpose.  

Food deserts have been a problem for a long time,” Rabb said. “The entrance of COVID-19 into our underserved urban and rural neighborhoods is making the situation even worse. The bipartisan legislation we are proposing would get fresh food to folks who aren’t able to easily access fresh, healthy food within their local area while helping our restauranteurs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time for our collective health and our economic security.

“This legislation is the type of innovative solution lawmakers should be considering for enterprising, socially conscious restaurateurs who sell PA Preferred groceries to customers – food such as meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs – while we all follow CDC guidelines for social distancing,” he said.  

The Food Trust reports that more than 2 million people, including over 500,000 children, live in food deserts across Pennsylvania. Rabb said his legislation would get fresh food to these communities while also assisting restauranters in fortifying their business operations while offering Pennsylvania-sourced groceries and creating local jobs in economically distressed communities.

The bill was referred to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in October but has not been considered.