Funding for essential workers who keep America fed

Workers handle meat packing shipment at plant.
El Nariz / Shutterstock

Farm and meatpacking plant workers will be able to receive money through a new Farm and Food Workers Relief grant program, announced this fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says grocery workers also can apply for some of the cash.

The Americans who'll qualify for the payments all who work in food-related industries, where sheltering in place or working from home was not possible.

State agencies, nonprofits and tribal entities have until Feb. 8 to apply for the funds, which those groups are set to receive in June. Then workers will apply to those groups for their payments.

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Stimulus checks for hundreds of dollars

Farm workers picking strawberries in a Field
F Armstrong Photography / Shutterstock

Farmworkers and meatpackers are entitled to up to $600 per person for pandemic health and safety-related costs, including personal protective equipment, child care and expenses related to testing or quarantining, the USDA says.

Approximately $20 million of the $700 million pool of money will be set aside for grocery store employees. However, the amount individuals in that industry will receive is not yet known.

"Our farmworkers, meatpacking workers and grocery workers overcame unprecedented challenges and took on significant personal risk to ensure Americans could feed and sustain their families throughout the pandemic,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a news release.

"They deserve recognition for their resilience and financial support for their efforts to meet personal and family needs while continuing to provide essential services," Vilsack says.

When it comes time to apply in 2022, workers must show proof of employment and provide “self-certification” of their pandemic-related expenses. Itemized receipts won’t be necessary, according to Agriculture Department guidance.

How to get a little more stimulus ASAP

Couple sitting on the couch at home, looking at their financial statements, stressed.
David Prado Perucha / Shutterstock

This new round of assistance is narrowly targeted. But if your budget is feeling tight these days because of the pandemic and inflation, or you could just use a little extra spending money, there are several options to help you create your own stimulus.

  • Deal with your debt. Credit may be convenient, but carrying a balance on your card will eventually bury you in expensive interest. Tackle that problem by folding your balances into a single debt consolidation loan. With a lower interest rate, you’ll not only slash the cost of your debt, but you’ll also be able to pay it off faster.
  • Trade in your mortgage. Almost half the homeowners who have taken advantage of the pandemic's historically low mortgage rates are now saving $300 a month or more, according to a recent Zillow survey. If you own your home and haven't refinanced in the past year, this may be the best time to do it. Thirty-year mortgage rates are hovering around 3%, so compare multiple refinance offers to see how much you might save.
  • Save while you shop. If you're doing more online shopping, a free browser extension can help you find the lowest prices by automatically scanning thousands of retailers.
  • Turn your pennies into a portfolio. Even if you don't have much money, you can still earn returns from the stock market. There's a popular app that can help you invest your "spare change" from everyday purchases to grow a diversified portfolio.

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About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Associate Editor

Sigrid’s current role is associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the MoneyWise team.

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