The Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation (ORAEF), a 501(c)(3), in collaboration with the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA), has formed the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to activate emergency funding for personnel in the foodservice industry who have been affected by COVID-19.

“The newest ORA data confirms the economic impact from COVID-19 on the restaurant sector is severe, with more than 80 percent of owners/operators reporting sales down significantly,” says John Barker, president and CEO of the ORA. “Overall, more than 6.6 million U.S. workers filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, on top of 3.3 million a week earlier, marking unprecedented devastation across the labor market, and we know a significant portion of those laid off are restaurant employees. With this new fund, we can all work together to support people in Ohio’s restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry and help make it vibrant again.”

ORA’s most recent weekly business impact poll was conducted March 29-April 1 and references information from 135 owners and operators for the week of March 15-21. The poll results show that 41 percent have closed locations and 1.5 percent indicated a permanent closing. These restaurant owners and managers are deeply concerned about employee layoffs, access to government relief, and the risk they face to survive this Pandemic.

How the Employee Relief Fund Works

Any Ohio employee in the restaurant, foodservice or hospitality industry that has been laid off due to the impact of COVID-19 is now eligible to apply for a grant from the Employee Relief Fund. Funding is restricted for the use of housing expenses (e.g. mortgage or rent), living expenses (e.g. transportation and groceries), and medical expenses

Applicants will need to prove their previous employment and fill out the application at to be considered. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and relief efforts will be based on need and funding available. Aid will be made as a single disbursement and may take up to four weeks to process. Applicants should note that the funding award distributed may be a partial payment of the full amount requested.

Donations to the fund can be given at All donations are tax-deductible and 100% of the funds will go directly to support displaced workers who are struggling with meeting their daily financial needs.

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