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City Programs Designed to Help Seniors, Restaurants Through Winter

Staff reports

The city is bringing back the Senior Meal Program to provide free meal delivery to help seniors who lacked reliable transportation in the pandemic.

The program also helps restaurants in each quadrant and is one way the city is helping the businesses cope with the challenges of COVID-19.

The first round of the Senior Meal Program launched in August and involved 20 restaurants that ultimately delivered almost 14,000 meals.

In this round, the city’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development is seeking up to 24 restaurants to deliver meals to residents age 60 and older who can’t travel to restaurants because of the pandemic.

The department will award grants of up to $24,900 to the selected restaurants in each quadrant. The restaurants must agree to prepare the deliver free meals to area seniors for up to four months.

To receive a grant, restaurants must operate within the city and be in good standing with all regulatory requirements, including zoning codes, taxes and fees, insurance and fair hiring practices. Applications are due Nov. 25 and are at www.cityofrochester.gov/restaurantgrant/.

The grants will be used by the selected restaurants as working capital to offset the operational expenses associated with the program. Funding is provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program is pending final approval from City Council and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The City is contracting with Goodwill and its 211/Life Line for enrollment. Selected restaurants will coordinate with Goodwill to provide and deliver the free meals to seniors enrolled in the program at designated dates and times. Restaurants can use third-party delivery companies.

The city also is trying to boost restaurants as the pandemic stretches into winter by launching Flower City Winter Sidewalks to help eateries offer heated outdoor dining.

“Rochester’s eclectic and culturally diverse dining scene is the backbone of retail activity along our commercial corridors, business districts and downtown,” Mayor Lovely Warren said in a news release. “Even a few additional good days a month can be the difference between staying open and closing … .”

The Flower City Winter Sidewalks program is the next phase of the Flower City Sidewalks Program launched in the summer, which helped restaurants and business expand outdoors to offset capacity restrictions imposed by the state because of COVID-19.

The winter program continues to offer opportunities to serve customers on streets, sidewalks and parking lots, and adds additional guidance on the use of temporary structures, including tents, igloos, greenhouses and custom frames.

The program expedites the application process and waives the permit fees to install structures on city rights-of-way and private property. Guidance will be offered on the best types of structures to use in different spaces and what heating elements will be allowed.

The city is also is looking into community support to help small businesses offset the cost of temporary structures. Anyone interested in becoming sponsor or learning more can contact planning manager Dorraine Kirkmire at dorraine.kirkmire@cityofrocheser.gov.

For more on Flower City Winter Sidewalks, go to www.jumpstartingroc.com/flower-city-winter-sidewalks.