According to the National Restaurant Association, there are 15.6 million restaurant industry employees. As the current COVID-19 pandemic forces restaurants across the country to suspend business, slash hours, or shutter completely, many restaurant and hospitality workers are facing the long-term loss of income.
In response to the economic effects of the coronavirus, organizations, non-profits, and other charitable groups have responded swiftly to come to the aid of displaced workers who will need help covering housing, food, healthcare costs, while also keeping their businesses and staff afloat.
Here are some organizations that are helping food service workers in need right now, both nationally and locally.
Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation
The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation fights for gender equality, racial justice, fair wages, and healthy work environments in the restaurant industry. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, RWCF has shifted its full focus to support restaurant workers, small business owners, and other industry professionals. The RWCF COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund will allocate 50 percent of their donations for the direct relief to individual restaurant workers, 25 percent to non-profits serving restaurant workers in crisis, and 25 percent for zero-interest loans for restaurants to get back up and running.
RWCF is creating a list of resources related to the coronavirus crisis on its website and gathering data from affected workers and restaurant owners to work with local and national leaders to address the systemic issues the COVID19 pandemic has exposed.
Created by a team of restaurant industry professionals, SupportRestaurants.Org began a “Dining Bonds” initiative to provide restaurants impacted by COVID-19 immediate funds (even if they are temporarily closed).
A dining bond works like a savings bond. Consumers can purchase a "bond" at a value rate to be redeemed for face value at a future date. They are sold at a price lower than face value and redeemable at face value upon dining at the restaurant. The goal is to sell them for the next 30 days to bring needed income to the restaurants and have them redeemable typically 30 to 60 days after purchase. Diners can purchase directly from participating restaurants by calling. A map of all participating restaurants is on the SupportRestaurants.Org website.
Southern Smoke Foundation
Chef Chris Shepherd's (of Houston’s James Beard award winning Underbelly Hospitality) Southern Smoke Foundation operates a year-round Emergency Relief Fund to help people in the industry pay for everything from rent to essential medications. To date, Southern Smoke has donated more than $1.6 million to individuals in crisis and organizations that represent the needs of the restaurant industry.
The fund supports the entire food chain—from farmers to bartenders to servers to cooks to brewers to wine makers and everyone in between. Southern Smoke is currently accepting both donations and applications from restaurant owners and service industry workers who are dealing with closed businesses or significant declines in revenue due to the coronavirus.
USBG National Charity Foundation
The United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) National Charity Foundation acts as a resource for the bar industry community. During these unprecedented times, the USBG National Charity Foundation is raising funds for their COVID-19 Relief Campaign to boost their Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. Those in the beverage industry in need of financial assistance can apply for an aid grant at www.usbgfoundation.org/beap.
From March 16-31, 2020, Jameson® Irish Whiskey has committed to give a 1:1 dollar match for every donation made to the USBG Foundation's COVID-19 relief campaign up to a maximum of $100,000.
James Beard Foundation
To help bring swift economic relief to restaurant businesses affected by the coronavirus, the James Beard Foundation is launching a fund that will gather support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need. JBF is working on application materials at this time and will send out information when they are ready to interested restaurant businesses. Interested businesses and donors can visit their website for more information. They also have a coronavirus response resource page for those in the industry.
One Fair Wage
One Fair Wage is a campaign that fights to end unjust sub-minimum wages of tipped workers in America (the federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 an hour). In response to the recent restaurant shutdown policies, OFW launched the Emergency Coronavirus Workers Support Fund in an attempt to raise $213,000 to provide cash assistance to tipped restaurant workers, delivery drivers, personal service workers, and others affected by coronavirus and the economic downturn. Donations are accepted through their website or here.
Another Round, Another Rally
Nonprofit Another Round, Another Rally gives reimbursement grants and educational scholarships to those with underrepresented voices in the community, as well as supplies emergency assistance to those employed in restaurants, bars, and hotels. Chefs, servers, bartenders, dishwashers, sommeliers, managers, or other hospitality positions are eligible for $500 relief grants who lost their jobs or had hours cut due to the effects of COVID-19 outbreak. To apply for a grant or make a donation, visit ARAR’s website.
Founded by former Eleven Madison Park alum Chef Matt Jozwiak, Rethink Foods is a non-profit community kitchen organization that recovers excess food and provides them at low or no-cost meals to New York City families in need. Along with a team that includes chief strategy officer and chef Winston Chiu (Bonbite Catering, Little Tong), Rethink takes unused food from grocery stores, restaurants, events, and corporate offices and transforms them into ready-to-eat meals delivered to local human service organizations in New York City.
In light of recent events, Rethink has set up a Restaurant Response Program to help up to 30 New York City-based restaurants by giving them $40,000 each to stay up and running. Those selected will act as an extension of Rethink and use their existing food supply (and additional from vendors) and turn them into nutritious meals to support those in need.
Led by chef Eric Korn and restaurateur Louie Lanza, Million Gallons’ goal is to get local chefs in New York to take the ingredients from their restaurants and cook soup (1 million gallons) for the restaurant and hospitality workers who have lost their jobs. They are also assisting restaurant and hospitality workers and those displaced by COVID-19. Assistance is concentrated in Westchester County and New York City. For more information on how to apply as a restaurant, for assistance or to donate, please visit their website.
Behind You, Inc.
BEHIND YOU! provides financial assistance to food service employees in the north of Boston area who are unable to work due to illness or injury. They provide support to employees when they have a medical hardship and are unable to work for at least four weeks. The organization launched an emergency fund for restaurant employees in Beverly, Lynn, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem, and/or Swampscott whose work is currently negatively impacted by COVID-19. For potential donors, any contribution made to Behind You will be matched 100 percent up to $20,000.
World Central Kitchen
World Central Kitchen (WCK) has launched their #ChefsforAmerica program, which is providing fresh meals to those communities most in need of support at this time, including children and their families, as well as seniors who cannot leave their homes to access food for meals. WCK is now active in dozens of cities providing nearly 250,000 fresh meals every day, with the help of area restaurants, providing not only meals for those in need, but also a way for those in the restaurant industry and delivery drivers to earn a living during these uncertain times. For more information on how to apply as a restaurant, for assistance or to donate, please visit their website.