The U.S. Department of Agriculture opened up $700 million in grants to farm and food workers affected by COVID-19.

“The program will provide relief to farm workers, meatpacking workers, and front-line grocery workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the USDA announced. “This relief is intended to defray costs for reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), dependent care, and expenses associated with quarantines and testing related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to The Hill, USDA will distribute grants to state governments, tribal entities, and nonprofits in amounts ranging from $5 million to $50 million. Additionally, $20 million has been set aside for grocery store workers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, the food and farm workers “deserve recognition for their resilience and financial support for their efforts to meet personal and family needs while continuing to provide essential services. This grant program is another component of this Administration’s efforts to ensure assistance to alleviate the effects of the pandemic is distributed to those who need it most.”

The measure will also give $600 payments to farm and meatpacking workers.

President of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Marc Perrone, said, “meatpacking plants experienced some of the most deadly COVID-19 outbreaks when the pandemic first began and there are few workers more deserving of our thanks and support.”

But he added that “grocery workers continue to face health risk during this COVID-19 Delta surge and the pilot program announced today is a strong step toward providing them with the assistance they and their families need.”

The announcement came on the heels of federal aid expiring for more than 7 million unemployed Americans.

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