The California Restaurant Association Foundation last year launched Restaurants Care, an emergency assistance fund. This year, it’s celebrating its first anniversary by offering cash grants to restaurant workers facing unforeseen hardships.
More than a year ago, a man was biking home after a late shift at a Sacramento restaurant when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. His foodservice friends rallied behind him, raising money to help him get by while he recuperated. This story inspired the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF) to start Restaurants Care, a fund that assists those in the California foodservice industry who are in need.
To date, the fund has helped 71 people, including those affected by last year’s California wildfires. “It was just fortuitous that we were established prior to the wildfires and then poised and ready to help so many people as a result of the natural disasters,” said CRAF Executive Director Alycia Harshfield.
Now, on the one-year anniversary of Restaurants Care, CRAF wants to remind those in California foodservice that the fund is available to them.
“When you are out of work for an extended period of time, it’s easy to fall behind, so through our one-time grants, we can help someone with those basic living expenses while they are working through whatever the crisis is,” whether it’s an illness or a natural disaster, Harshfield said.
To receive a one-time grant, California restaurant workers fill out an application, which is then reviewed by a board committee. The funds, which are capped at $1,000 per person, can be used to cover expenses such as temporary lodging during displacement or supplies and clothing for temporary employment.
When CRAF was founded in 1981, it strived to fulfill its mission of promoting the foodservice industry by investing in youth and the workforce. Early on, that looked like raising money for scholarships and supporting high school culinary arts programs. But what CRAF realized last year is that “some of our scholarship recipients and some of the students who have gone through the high school program are now working in the industry, and we thought, ‘Well, how do we care for those who are already in the industry?’” Harshfield said.
Restaurants Care is one of the ways the organization is accomplishing that.
“We really are interested in the wellbeing and the care of all individuals in our industry because they’re the heart of it,” she said. “If you don’t have employees who are taken care of or healthy and able to concentrate at work because they’re worried that they’re falling behind because of some sort of crisis, you don’t have a successful restaurant or a successful business.”