Proposals for COVID-19 Relief: Randolph-Sheppard Blind Vendors
The COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a devastating economic impact on the nearly 2,000 Randolph-Sheppard blind vendors who feed federal, state, and local government employees every day.
The Randolph-Sheppard Act grants priority to blind persons licensed by the State Licensing Agency (SLA) to manage and operate food services in all federal buildings. Most states have companion statutes that extend similar priority to state and local government buildings. On the national level, the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. In states, the agency that provides vocational rehabilitation services to the blind also administers the programs. The blind vendor’s income are the profits generated by food service businesses. These food service businesses generate over $700,000,000 in annual sales with the median income for all blind entrepreneurs being approximately $40,000. The blind entrepreneurs pay a percentage of the profits back to the SLA to fund the overall program. Nationally, the total comes to approximately $15,000,000.
Due to shut-downs in federal and state facilities across the country in response to COVID-19; blind vendor's livelihoods are threatened. It is being proposed that a one-time allocation of $35,000,000 be appropriated to the U.S. Department of Education to provide relief for these blind vendors.
Urge your lawmakers to pass this essential relief.