In March, in response to the COVID-19 crisis and it’s effect on the restaurant industry, Chef Edward Lee, in partnership with The LEE Initiative and Maker’s Mark, launched The Restaurant Workers Relief Program. The program has been able to provide over 140,000 meals and thousands of pounds of supplies to out of work restaurant employees in nineteen cities across the country.
As restaurants around the country look towards reopening, Edward Lee and Lindsey Ofcacek, director of The LEE Initiative are committed to helping reset the supply chains for farmers and restaurant operators who are committed to sustainable food. The LEE Initiative’s Restaurant Reboot Relief Program is committing at least $1 million to purchasing food from sustainable farmers in 16 regions and giving that food directly to restaurants in those areas. The restaurants that have hosted relief centers in those areas will be receiving the food and helping to select which other restaurants will be receiving the food as well.
“As we were able to help these restaurants survive during the crisis, we realized we’d still be facing a crisis once restaurants were able to reopen. The entire supply chain is broken and by investing in small farmers, we hope to help to repair it and allow farmers and restaurants to rebuild together,” says Lee of the second phase of this program.
The Restaurant Reboot Relief Program launches in June of 2020 and run for at least a year. The program is dependent on involvement from generous partners including Maker’s Mark, as well as donations from the general public.