August 17, 2020

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund helps 43K-plus out-of-work employees

Donations went directly to the relief fund to be dispersed to each approved applicant in the form of a $500 check.

The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which began in late March, is helping more than 43,000 restaurant workers impacted by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. The Foundation’s four-month campaign, championed by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, garnered over $21.5 million in financial aid for struggling restaurant workers.

The money raised came from both corporate donors (more than 50 of them) and donations from private individuals (nearly $2 million of the $21.5 million fund). Major contributors included Uber Eats, PepsiCo, TikTok, Constellation Brands, Netflix And Series Creators, Wingstop Restaurants Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company; 100% of all donations went directly to RERF.

Donations went directly to the relief fund to be dispersed to each approved applicant in the form of a $500 check. Many recipients — writing to thank the Foundation — shared that they planned to use the money to help with everything from rent and mortgage payments to food, transportation, school loans, childcare, medical bills and even car repairs. All applicants who met the eligibility requirements were funded.

The one-time grants have been distributed to workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Approximately 60% of recipients are between the ages of 21 and 35, and nearly 60% identify as female. Half identified as racial minorities.

The majority, 80%, reported that they had household incomes of less than $50,000 per year prior to the pandemic.

Many wrote to the Foundation to express their thanks, and their sentiments reveal not only the impact of the financial relief, but the community and resiliency of our industry. Among them:

"Thank you! I have worked all my life in this business and have been dedicated to the same job for 23 years, and it’s good to know we’re appreciated and someone cares. Through these hard times this helps so very much and is so thoughtful of you and everyone involved." Annette C., Virginia

"My goodness I wasn’t expecting this! I’m a single father of three children. My hours at work were reduced more than 80% because of COVID-19. This grant will help my family and me so much. Thanks to all of those that made this possible."
Nathaniel W., Pennsylvania

"Though I have never experienced a pandemic like this, I do know one thing: nothing can stop our industry. I am very humbled and gratified to have received aid from the NRAEF because it was a reminder that I was not alone. I want to thank everyone, including the sponsors, who donated to help people in need in our industry. Hospitality and the sense of community is something that can never be taken away and I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being there for restaurant workers that still don’t have the slightest clue as to what will happen. Thank you for giving me comfort during these strange times. We will adapt and overcome." – Tara P., California

Read the full details of the campaign and more testimonials at