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Coronavirus Response: Relief for Struggling Restaurant Workers

By / Aug 12, 2020 (Thomas Barwick/Stone)

With more than 8 million restaurant workers laid off since the beginning of coronavirus, NRAEF created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund and distributed one-time $500 payments to those in need.

Coronavirus Response • National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, more than 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off, according to the National Restaurant Association. Early on in the pandemic, it became obvious that “somebody needed to step in and try and help all the restaurant workers who, through no fault of their own, were about to have their lives turned upside down,” says National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation President Rob Gifford.

To that end, NRAEF created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, distributing one-time $500 payments to restaurant workers in need. The fund has raised over $20 million, much of it from corporate donors. But more than $1 million has come from individuals.

“We’re particularly proud of the fact that more than 10,000 individual donors have contributed to this effort, many of whom were not familiar with the work of the foundation prior to this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” Gifford says.

Restaurant industry icon Guy Fieri spread the word by leading a nationwide fundraising drive and going on a publicity tour. By mid-April, more than 60,000 restaurant workers had registered with the fund, and payments were beginning to go out.

“At this time of uncertainty across our industry, there’s a lot of fear out there,” Gifford says, and the relief fund can be “a sign of hope in fearful times.”

Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. More »

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