Nonprofits, chefs, restaurateurs step up to help restaurant workers during novel coronavirus crisis

At a time of need, industry associates in need get more suppport

Nonprofit organizations, restaurants and chefs are pitching in during the COVID-19 pandemic to help restaurant industry workers displaced by dining room closures, reduced restaurant revenue and social distancing. The National Restaurant Educational Foundation (NRAEF) launched the Restaurant Relief America campaign with the help of Guy Fieri, a celebrity chef and TV personality, to help struggling restaurant workers.

Fieri, who is also a restaurateur and author, has brought much attention to the project, boosting the RERF (Restaurant Employee Relief Fund). With the help of The Coca-Cola Company, the fund raised $10M in just 10 days. “Support for the fund has been tremendous and we are excited to have The Coca-Cola Company join our growing group of partners who are working tirelessly to help protect vulnerable restaurant workers with their financial support,” said Rob Gifford, NRAEF president.

Within hours of the grant applications going live, the NRAEF website was overwhelmed and the association was working through those technical challenges. This problem attests to the number of restaurant workers who need to find resources to pay their bills and put food on the table.


The $500 RERF grant per restaurant worker can help pay housing, transportation, utilities, child care, groceries, medical bills, or student loans. Applicants can navigate to

Restaurant workers themselves have volunteered and started working at food pantries, according to major news reports. However, they are also clients of these same food banks and generous restaurants that provide industry people free food. Jeff Bezos, founder, chief executive and president of Amazon, donated $100M to Feeding America. His generosity will be key in helping the largest U.S.hunger relief organization take on additional clients. Feeding America has a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries help address the needs of 40 million underserved people.

“This donation, the largest single gift in our history, will enable us to provide more food to millions of our neighbors facing hardship during this crisis,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive of Feeding America. “Countless lives will be changed because of his generosity.”

Chefs in New York City have banded together to cook 1M gallons of soup to fee restaurant workers. The initiative spearheaded by Eric Korn and Louie Lanza ask chefs to use ingredients in the restaurants to help feed restaurant workers that need it with some hearty soup, reported CNN. Also, Hook Hall, a restaurant, bar and outdoor venue in Washington, D.C. is helping restaurant workers with Care Kits. Employees that drop by between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. can access one of these kits.

Photo credit: NRAEF

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