Food Network star Guy Fieri is partnering with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to help restaurant workers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Foundation created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to support employees. Fieri will lead a fundraising campaign known as “Restaurant Relief America.” All of the money raised will go to restaurant workers.
“My entire career has been in the restaurant business,” Fieri said in a statement. “From bussing tables to flambe captain to dishwasher to chef … I’ve done it all. I’ve also spent the better part of the last 15 years traveling this great country meeting other folks who’ve dedicated their lives to this business and let me tell you something, they are the hardest working, most real deal workers you’ve ever met … The heartbeats of their communities. But they need our help and with Restaurant Relief America, we can serve up some support when these restaurant employees need it most … right now.”
Beginning April 2, impacted individuals can apply online for a one-time $500 check to use for housing, transportation, utilities, child-care, groceries, medical bills, and/or student loans. The funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To be eligible, an individual must have worked part-time for full-time in the industry for at least 90 days in the last year; must have had a primary source of income in the industry for the last year; must have experienced a pay reduction or job loss on or after March 10; must live in the U.S., overseas in a military base, or any U.S. territory; and must be over the legal age in their state or territory.
Family members or board directors of the Foundation or National Restaurant Association aren’t eligible.
“Foodservice workers are facing unprecedented financial challenges and need support for everyday needs such as housing, childcare, and groceries,” said Anne Fink, president of PepsiCo Global Foodservice. “We need to provide relief to our friends, neighbors and customers to weather this storm so the restaurant industry can return more resilient than ever.”
The National Restaurant Association said 5 million to 7 million jobs and $250 billion could be lost in the next three months. Mark Allen, president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, said foodservice distributors will lose $24 billion in top-line sales.
Several restaurant companies have announced major furloughs or layoffs including Ruth’s Hospitality, Chuy’s Holdings, The ONE Group Hospitality, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Landry’s, J. Alexander’s, Golden Corral, Luby’s, and Craftworks Holdings.