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How You Can Help Hospitality Workers Affected by COVID-19

Restaurants + Bars
by Matthew Meltzer Mar 19, 2020

For many people around the country, this COVID-19 era is dark times. Restaurants and bars nationwide have laid off hourly employees. Hotels, airlines, buses, and other travel-related fields are surely not far behind. And only time will tell how far-reaching this month’s economic consequences may be.

Organizations all over the nation are trying to help people who have lost their jobs or are otherwise struggling financially, and all are accepting donations. That means you, assuming you’re cash-secure, can give assistance to your service industry friends. And if you find yourself in a difficult situation, you can find a resource that may be able to help below.

We’ll update this list as new organizations and relief programs emerge.

USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance

The United States Bartenders Guild has launched one of the biggest relief campaigns in the nation through its Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. It will pay grants to bartenders and their families who have experienced a sudden and unexpected loss of income. It’s already received half a million dollars from Jameson and another $1,00,000 from the drinks conglomerate Diageo.

IGC Hospitality’s Family Meal

The hospitality group behind New York City favorites Cleo, Parker & Quinn, David Burke’s The Woodpecker, and others is launching a program to provide daily meals to affected service industry workers. Named after the fabled pre-shift feast, the program will allow people to send in a daily order form for the meal — posted at @igchospitality’s Instagram — and then pick it up at Parker & Quinn. You can donate to the program through a GoFundMe page here.

Dining Bond Initiative

Kind of like a cross between a savings bond and Groupon, this site launched by New York-based Hall PR and HP-PR allows you to go online and buy a restaurant gift card at a reduced rate, redeemable long after the crisis is over. So, essentially, you can buy $100 worth of gift card for $75 now, though terms vary by restaurant. The site has a map listing restaurants nationwide.

Skrewball Whiskey

The San Diego-based whiskey company is collecting money to compile care packages for hospitality workers through its cleverly named Skrew COVID-19 program. For every Instagram share of the program, it’ll also donate $1 to the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, if you care to do a little extra to donate to that campaign.

Restaurant Workers Community Foundation

The RWCF has started an emergency relief fund serving a threefold approach: Donating money to economically impacted workers, establishing zero-interest loans to small businesses so they can continue to pay their employees during the crisis, and directing money to other organizations working directly with those most affected.

Death and Company

The renowned New York/LA/Denver cocktail bar has launched a relief fund for its furloughed employees. The company is continuing health-care coverage for its team through April 30 but is looking to raise money for them through a GoFundMe campaign and has received a matching pledge through one of its investors for up to $10,000.

One Fair Wage

The organization devoted to fighting sub-minimum wages among service industry workers has begun its own emergency relief fund that aims to raise $213,000 for cash-strapped employees in reference to the $2.13 an hour base wage they make in many cities. The organization assists workers in 11 states but is open to donations from anywhere.

Giving Kitchen

This charity, founded in 2012 to help Atlanta-area chef Ryan Hiddinger fight late-stage lung cancer, helps hospitality employees who find themselves unable to work through its Pass the Hat campaign. Currently, donations to the campaign will be used to help those now jobless due to restaurant closures.

Culture Crusaders

This Miami-based lifestyle publication has developed a small business resource center where small businesses in Miami and everywhere else can go to find links to government assistance, charitable organizations, and other helping hands. It has also developed a program to match donors with individuals in need through a manual application program.

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