Food establishments get another chance at relief funding

Clark County Public Health is re-opening the program thanks to CARES Act funding from the Washington Department of Health

CLARK COUNTY — Restaurants in Clark County that weren’t able to take advantage of relief funding made available through CARES Act dollars have another chance.

In October, Clark County Public Health announced that restaurants, caterers, and other food service businesses impacted by shutdowns related to COVID-19 could receive a reimbursement of their 2020 food services permit costs, ranging from $258 and $1,835.

A parklet outside City Sandwich in downtown Vancouver went up after restrictions on dine-in service during the pandemic. Photo by Mike Schultz
A parklet outside City Sandwich in downtown Vancouver went up after restrictions on dine-in service during the pandemic. Photo by Mike Schultz

Initially, the county had set an application deadline of Oct. 31, with the understanding that local CARES Act dollars needed to be disbursed by the end of November.

A total of 562 food establishments qualified for the relief funding, said Bridgette Bashaw, food safety program manager for Clark County Public Health, totaling $660,773.

Even with staff reaching out to the restaurant owners, Bashaw said some couldn’t be reached, and a handful declined to apply for the relief in hopes other businesses needing help could receive it.

This week, Clark County Public Health announced that they will be able to re-open applications for relief funding, thanks to direct disbursement of CARES Act funding from the Washington Department of Health.

“Fortunately, the Coronavirus Relief Funds that were allocated directly to Public Health from Washington State Department of Health came with an end date of December 30,” said Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Harbison at a Board of Public Health meeting on Tuesday, “which matches the federal deadline.”

Bashaw said CCPH will be contacting business owners who declined help the first time around to offer them assistance.

“This time around we will be offering to complete the application for them,” Bashaw told the board. “It is a very simple short application. So we are offering to do that for them while they’re on the phone and hopefully get more people enrolled.”

Bashaw said a number of health department staffers who had been calling businesses in October noted that several had said they intended to apply, but then never followed up.

“So I think that our offering to the application for them on the phone will be really helpful,” she added.

Bashaw said staff would also be reaching out to more than just the brick and mortar business phone numbers in hopes of reaching someone.

“There are additional restrictions on food establishments right now that were not in place in October,” she said. “So we might actually have a harder time in connecting with the owner of the food establishment.”

This round of applications will be due by Christmas Eve on Dec. 24, with funds expected to go out as soon as Dec. 30.

“Our finance staff has collaborated with the county auditor’s office to make sure that we get those checks cut pretty much immediately,” said Harbison.

Bashaw said a total of 990 food establishments in Clark County could be eligible for the relief funding. That includes:

  • 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.

Additional information is available on the Public Health website. Food establishment owners without internet access can call (564) 397-7257 to apply by phone.