5 Relief Funds for Restaurants

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, restaurants all over have suffered from a loss of business due to shelter in place orders combined with unemployment rates increasing for consumers. Many have begun looking for alternative income streams, such as selling gift cards, offering online experiences like cooking classes and other innovative ideas. Learn more about fostering off-premise sales here.

In the midst of this pandemic, many community members want to help local businesses in any way they can. Several charities have thus begun to assist food service establishments struggling through this crisis.

These five relief funds are helping restaurants survive in this confusing, trying time.

| eatOS December 1, 2021

1. Dining Bond Initiative

This fund works similarly to how individual restaurants’ gift cards do, generating sales from future dine-in experiences now. The Dining Bond Initiative offers gift certificates that consumers can buy at a 25% discount. The Initiative intends for buyers to redeem these within the next couple of months, although they allow the restaurants to decide how long the certificates are valid. Any restaurant can apply to this program and are guaranteed 100% of the generated profits.

2. Southern Smoke Foundation

Houston chef Chris Shepherd runs this foundation, which operates entirely on donations from generous customers. They take fund applications from any restaurant, or any restaurant employee, who needs financial assistance due to COVID-19.

3. JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund

The James Beard Foundation (or “JBF”) Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund is completely donation-based, just like the Southern Smoke Foundation. Diners can give to their favorite establishments. Corporate donors also have the opportunity to contribute more than the average community member by providing micro-grants to independent restaurants in need.

4. Support Local

Gannett created this platform, and as a news media company they were already aware of how badly COVID-19 has affected businesses. Support Local actively compiles lists of restaurants offering gift cards and other promotional deals to generate profits in place of their usual dine-in services. These lists cover a variety of cities such as Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and others all across America so that consumers can choose to support local establishments or those in other struggling communities.

5. World Central Kitchen

Celebrity chef José Andrés began this foundation in 2010. Since then, World Central Kitchen has assisted communities through a variety of natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Maria devastating Puerto Rico, the Thomas Fire that affected Southern California and more. They got involved with COVID-19 relief efforts when the Grand Princess cruise ship quarantined near San Francisco for a week while local authorities developed a plan for testing and disembarking its passengers. During that time, WCK partnered with Bon Appetit Management Company to feed the passengers, ultimately delivering over 50K meals.

Since then, WCK has continued working to combat the negative effects of the virus. José Andrés owns a variety of restaurants including several across New York City and D.C. In mid-March of 2020, he converted eight of them into soup kitchens to support consumers affected by COVID-19. Later that month WCK also collaborated with the San Francisco chapter of Frontline Foods; together, they assist local restaurants and also bring food to hospital staff working so hard to keep everybody safe. Frontline Foods posted on their website: “If you’re a restaurant, our team will work with you to arrange meals for local hospitals and other frontline workers—paid for by Frontline Foods.”

These five incredible relief foundations are not the only ones working hard to assist independent restaurants in need, however they set an amazing example for others wondering how to assist their communities during this time. For more information on how to help, visit these and other local funds’ websites to get involved in local relief efforts serving your community.

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