Clark County makes financial support available for food establishments


Qualifying businesses can get their 2020 retail food license cost refunded as part of the program

CLARK COUNTY — It’s not the help Clark County had hoped to send their way, but food establishments could be eligible for at least a little assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clark County Public Health announced this week they are opening up applications for food establishments to receive CARES Act fund disbursements to cover the cost of their 2020 retail food permit.

The Steakburger Food Truck moves between locations each week, but was shut down for a short time during the pandemic. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Steakburger Food Truck moves between locations each week, but was shut down for a short time during the pandemic. Photo by Mike Schultz

Those permit fees can range from $258 to $1,835, the department said. Businesses will still have to pay for their 2021 retail food license.

“Local restaurants have been operating in a limited capacity for months or have closed their doors completely. And caterers, mobile food carts and event vendors have lost business due to event cancellations,” said Brigette Bashaw, food safety program manager. “We hope this funding will help food establishments recoup a small portion of the losses they’ve endured over the last six months.”

In a presentation on the proposed funding last month Bashaw noted that 73 of the county’s 1,761 active food permits had not been renewed this year. Twenty-five others chose to pay for their license renewal through an installment plan, which 17 more were on a partial repayment plan.

Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches and Warehouse ‘23 has been a frequent critic of Gov. Jay Inslee’s order that shut down restaurants and now limits capacity. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches and Warehouse ‘23 has been a frequent critic of Gov. Jay Inslee’s order that shut down restaurants and now limits capacity. Photo by Mike Schultz

The program is expected to cost approximately $1.36 million in CARES Act funding, and food establishments can use it at their discretion for any operational expense.

“It’s not much but it’s something,” Councilor Julie Olson said in August. “And hopefully we won’t lose a large number of more restaurants as we try to finish this year and get through this crisis.”

Eligible food establishments must submit an application on the Public Health website to receive CARES funds. Food establishment owners without internet access can call (564) 397-7257 to apply by phone.

Applications are being accepted through Oct. 31, and all funds will be disbursed by Nov. 30.

Eligible food establishments include:

  • Level 1, 2, and 3 restaurants
  • Level 1, 2, and 3 mobile units
  • Level 1, 2, and 3 multiple event vendors
  • Caterers
  • Bed and breakfasts

Food establishments must also have annual revenues of less than $1 million and must hold a valid Public Health food permit or be enrolled in a COVID-19 deferred permit program to be eligible.

The County Council has said they are hopeful that Washington state will release more of the Coronavirus Relief Funding received by states as part of the CARES Act, most of which was intended to be disbursed to local governments. 

If that happens, the council has said they would be interested in additional stimulus funding or grants to small businesses in the county impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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