A program aimed at helping people negatively impacted by COVID-19 double the money they spend on groceries and necessary household goods goes live Monday in Kenai.
The program, which the City of Kenai is offering in partnership with the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, will award vouchers in increments of $100 up to $200 to people who spend $200 on qualifying purchases from stores selling groceries and necessary household goods. The vouchers will have to be spent by May 31 at those same businesses.
The Kenai City Council approved $215,000 for the program during their Feb. 17 meeting. According to a memo from Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel to the council, $200,000 would allow 1,000 people to participate in the program if they each submit receipts totalling $200.
Examples of stores in the City of Kenai that sell groceries or other necessary household items include the Kenai Walmart, the Kenai Safeway, IGA, Three Bears, Maggie’s General Store and convenience stores. Online orders, SNAP and WIC benefits, liquor and tobacco are all ineligible for the program.
Businesses that want to become voucher merchants must be located in Kenai city limits, have been in existence with a valid State of Alaska business license as of Jan. 1, 2021 and must be current in sales tax registration with the borough and not be delinquent with the borough tax department.
Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Executive Director Brittany Brown said Wednesday that the chamber is still working out some of the details of the program, so businesses interested in participating have not been able to sign up yet. Brown said the enrollment process will be similar to that of the city’s shop local program, which is going on now.
“I’m hoping by the end of the week … we’ll have everything outlined,” Brown said Wednesday.
In getting some of the larger retailers to participate in the program, Brown said she doesn’t anticipate having much difficulty. Safeway, for example, is a member of the chamber, and Walmart works with the chamber on some events.
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