Giving Kitchen announced that the nonprofit organization will include a substance abuse recovery initiative for members of the food service industry. Beginning Dec. 8, Giving Kitchen is accepting applications from food service workers who have recently undergone inpatient treatment for substance abuse and need help with cost of living. In addition to financial assistance for living expenses such as rent and utility bills, the organization will also be able to make referrals to affordable inpatient facilities by early 2021.
“Substance abuse is rampant in the restaurant industry, and resources to help employees recover from addiction are very limited,” says Andrew Zimmern, Giving Kitchen partner and Emmy- and four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality and chef. “Giving Kitchen is actively addressing this issue by reinforcing that substance abuse is an illness and making recovery a qualifying crisis for financial support and resource allocation. This is a significant step toward providing the life-changing services that are long overdue and is more important than ever during a time when the industry itself is fighting to survive.”
Long hours, a fast-paced environment, demanding nature of the job and proximity to alcohol are just some of the factors contributing to drug and alcohol abuse within the service industry. This year’s pandemic has intensified two of the known drivers of substance abuse and misuse: loneliness and isolation. A 2020 study1, when compared to the same study in 2019, reveals that U.S. adults were three times more likely to be experiencing mental health issues, substance use disorder and suicidal ideation. Adults 18-24 were more likely to turn to substance abuse to deal with the pandemic, and Black and Hispanic respondents reported higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance use.
“There is an overwhelming need within the food service industry to support those in recovery. Many food service workers are forced to choose between housing stability and addiction. When they make the brave decision to get the help they need, GK will be here with the support they deserve. We will keep the lights on and a roof overhead when they come home,” says Giving Kitchen executive director Bryan Schroeder.
After examining the food service industry’s high risk for substance use disorders and continuing its commitment to supporting mental health by offering free suicide prevention training through QPR Institute, Giving Kitchen’s mission to help food service workers in crisis has evolved to include substance abuse recovery in the organization’s existing illness crisis category. As a result, qualifying Georgia food service workers who have completed time in inpatient treatment in the last six months and those considering substance abuse recovery can now ask for help. Interested applicants should start the process at givingkitchen.org/help and will be asked to provide current documentation of income and expenses as well as medical verification. Assistance will be provided only once per crisis.
Since its inception, Giving Kitchen has awarded $4 million in financial assistance to food service workers. Continued support of donors makes this aid possible. Those interested in donating can visit givingkitchen.org/support to explore opportunities for making a difference.
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