Famed restaurateur Guy Fieri has teamed up with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to launch the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, an initiative that will provide support to food workers whose finances and livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of the money donated to the fund will be given to restaurant workers in need. Workers may also apply for a one-time $500 check from the fund, which could be used “towards housing, transportation, utilities, child-care, groceries, medical bills and/or student loans,” according to a press release.
Applications for the $500 checks would begin April 2. The funds will be offered on a “first-come, first-served basis.”
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Fieri highlighted the resilience of restaurant workers in the press release, saying, “they are the hardest working, most real deal workers you’ve ever met… the heartbeats of their communities.”
“We can serve up some support when these restaurant employees need it most… right now,” Fieri said.
The announcement of the fund comes at a time when restaurant employees across the country have found themselves with reduced hours or out of work entirely. Many cities and states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, effectively forcing many restaurants to close or to only provide reduced services.
Some restaurant employees and their loved ones have already begun their own fundraising measures, such as starting GoFundMe campaigns to raise money to support a locations’s staff or help pay bills during the pandemic.
“Early estimates indicate that as many as 5 to 7 million restaurant workers may lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis, and many already have,” said NRAEF President Rob Gifford, according to the release. “In the face of this pandemic, we are asking the nation to join us in protecting vulnerable restaurant workers through your generous financial support.”
Those who are interested in donating can visit the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund’s website.