Chef Jose Andres — a Spanish-American who popularized the tapas concept in America — is no stranger to feeding those in need. He led a team of volunteers that served millions of meals to hungry Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria, and with the current partial government shutdown stretching into its fourth week, the philanthropic chef is at it again. Andres announced he would serve free sandwiches for lunch to furloughed federal employees in each of his Washington, DC, restaurants during the shutdown. Additionally, Andres will set up a kitchen on Pennsylvania Avenue to feed the unpaid workers right near the White House through his World Central Kitchen project.
Andres isn’t alone, though. Across the country, hundreds of restaurants and businesses are opening their doors — and their kitchens — to those sent home or working without pay in an effort to ease the financial burden. In Denver, the Big Red F Restaurant Group is offering a free lunch to furloughed workers across each of its brands. Neal Brown, a prominent restaurateur in Indianapolis, is offering a meal during all open hours at his Ukiyo Sushi Bar, Libertine Liquor Bar, and Pizzology Craft Pizza & Pub. No matter where you are in the country, the chain Fazoli’s is donating a signature Pizza Baked Spaghetti dish with the purchase of a small drink. Even Canadian air traffic controllers are chipping in and buying pizzas for their American counterparts.
The giving spirit also extends beyond food. Alpine Bank in Colorado has set aside $5 million and pledged to loan federal employees their next paycheck interest-free for six months after the shutdown ends, whether or not they are customers of the bank. Inc Magazine reported on free knitting services in Virginia, and if you’re a furloughed federal worker in DC, the Capitol Lounge is even offering the perfect nightcap: the $5 Border Wall Banger cocktail.
While living without a paycheck is no easy task, more freebies and assistance options are popping up every day. The best way to find restaurants donating food in your city or other charitable services is to check the website of your local newspaper.