Here's How Hospitality Workers Can Access Relief Funds and Other Resources

Editor's Note: Plate is making coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find more articles here.

Even with the cautious and hopeful reopening of restaurants, bars, and patios around the country this summer, the hospitality industry continues to face the devastating effects of the pandemic. COVID-19 spikes and outbreaks have prompted city officials to order more shutdowns and tighter restrictions on seating capacity. The unemployment rate remains at 7.9 percent, and 898,000 people filed for unemployment last week, with no signs of getting better as we head into the fall. The NRA also recently reported that 100,000 restaurants have closed since the pandemic started, and consumer spending in restaurants is down 34 percent on average. With millions of restaurant employees still out of work, a number of charities and other organizations continue to offer financial aid, family meals, assistance and job opportunities. We’ve listed available resources by state below. Let us know of others by emailing us at and we’ll add them to this list.

National Resources 

The Southern Smoke Foundation, founded by Chris Shepherd, is offering emergency relief funds to anyone who can prove employment in the food and beverage industries for at least six months;  click here to apply.


Working with The LEE Initiative founded by Edward Lee, restaurants in 19 cities around the country have converted into community kitchens, serving as a safe place for unemployed workers to pick up food and grocery essentials almost daily. Click here for the full list of community kitchens in your city as well as pickup details.

The James Beard Foundation announced a new grant initiative that will provided financial resources to majority-owned Black or indigenous businesses. The fund will disburse grants of $15,000 each equally across Black and indigenous populations across the U.S. Click here for more information and application requirements. 

March On Foundation, in partnership with Ardyn, has established the COVID Community Fund, or COCO Fund, to provide immediate, critical financial support to restaurant, event and hospitality industry workers. Unemployed servers, hosts, chefs, housekeepers, caterers, event staff, bartenders, bussers, kitchen staff, and baristas and other industry professionals in need can click here to apply for $500 grants.

The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation provides resources and information for restaurants and hospitality workers coping with COVID-19. Click here to apply for relief funds, find out how you can safely return to work, get legal aid and more.

The New Orleans Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier has announced three new culinary research and education grants/scholarships for women in hospitality, totaling $1,500. Click here for more information and to apply by November 30.

THIRST GROUP is a new industry-led legislative advocacy group whose mission is to help restaurant and bar owners lobby for insurance protection. More than 50 industry professionals across eight states have joined the effort so far, and are working to offer tools and resources to help owners get the protection they paid for during COVID-19. Click here to get involved or access articles, information and resources.

One Fair Wage is offering assistance to unemployed workers via an emergency Covid-19 Relief Fund. Click here for more information and to apply in English or Spanish.

CORE Gives is a nationwide organization seeking to help restaurant workers with children by supplying them with food. The site also provides a resource center for financial aid. 

Hcareers is offering this comprehensive list of hospitality certifications as well as job listings for unemployed hospitality workers. Click here to start your search.

Hospitality Link is providing a free job matching resource for hospitality employees looking for work. In a win-win move, the site lists roles in grocery stores, which are stretched thin under the current demands and in need of help from trained hospitality pros. JobGet is another app that helps hospitality workers find and apply for new jobs instantly.

It is an especially scary time for immigrant workers and undocumented communities. Check out this Google document for an organized list of resources and tips, covering everything from where to get tested to where to seek financial assistance.

For a comprehensive list of restaurant employee resources, organized state-by-state, the Gig Workers Collective provides links and contact information for gig workers like servers and bartenders to gain access to financial aid, rent assistance, food, medical care and more.

Barmagic has created a reguarly updated Hospitality Relief Dashboard with news, a bar and restaurant revival guide and interactive map relief map with links to resources for unemployed workers and charitable organizations around the country. 

Saint City Culinary provides wellness and mental health resources to workers in the hospitality service industry in San Antonio, New Orleans and Dallas, with plans for expansion to DC and Baltimore. Their wellness program, Heard, offers addiction recovery, sobriety and mental health resources for men and women in the food service industry. Click here for resources and information and here to sign up for free, weekly Zoom meetings that focus on mental health, wellness, and sobriety.


La Cocina in Tucson is offering free meals to laid off hospitality workers between 2 p.m and 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Food is served on the restaurant’s patio, to a maximum of three diners at a time to ensure safe social distancing. 


Immigrants Rising provides undocumented restaurant workers in Los Angeles training and support to transfer their current skills into new employment opportunities.  Click here for mental health support, immigration options, information about how to pursue a college degree and more.

La Cocina in San Francisco is a nonprofit offering small business resources to women, immigrants and people of color in the restaurant industry. Unemployed workers can get information about obtaining grants, getting financial assistance, accessing relief funds and more. 

If you have a business in San Francisco, you can now apply for free, temporary shared space permits on private property like rear yards, vacant lots, parking lots and patios. Click here for rules and to apply.

The San Francisco VA Healthcare System is hiring temporary food service workers. Click here or here for more information and to apply for work, or email your resume to


The Angel Relief Fund is focusing its charitable efforts on hospitality workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are quarantined, or have been out of work for more than a month. If you meet the criteria and reside in Colorado, apply for financial aid here​​


Restaurants can apply for financial assistance with Delaware’s Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP), which provides no-interest loans up to $10,000 for restaurants and bars.


Feed the Need Florida is looking to partner with restaurants and hire unemployed restaurant workers to help prepare and delivery meals for those in need. Read more about the organization here and click here to find out how to get involved


Giving Kitchen provides financial support and a strong network of community resources, including family and social services, physical and mental health assistance, where to find free meals and more. 


The Southern Smoke Foundation has launched a $4 million Chicago Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, available to restaurant, bar, and coffee shop workers experiencing hardship and financial loss from COVID-19 in Cook County. To qualify, applicants must have worked in a restaurant, bar or coffee shop for at least six months prior to the COVID-19 crisis, for a minimum of 30 hours per week. Click here to apply for help.  

The Illinois Restaurant Association has announced an employee relief fund to provide financial assistance to industry workers throughout Illinois. One-time financial support will be offered to restaurant employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are caring for a family member or has, or have been quarantined with a doctor's note. Applications for the Employee Relief Fund will open in October. Click here for more details and updates.

For unemployed restaurant workers who have been unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19, the Illinois Housing Development Authority is offering emergency rental assistance to those who qualify. Grants of $5,000 will be sent directy to the landlords of familes in need. Only one application per family is allowed, and application does not guarantee assistance. Apply here.

Chicago-based nonprofit Pilot Light, which partners chefs with schools to provide education on food and cooking, is paying chefs to create easy-to-follow educational videos for families to watch at home. The series is called "Family Meal." If interested, apply here. Pilot Light is also offering resources pages for families in need of tutoring and schooling aid at home. 

Chicago’s Fifty/50 Restaurant Group (Roots Handmade PizzaPortsmithSteadfast) is cooking and offering pre-packaged and contact-free family meals to anyone in need, including hospitality members, on a daily basis out of The Fifty/50. Pickup food from The Fifty/50 between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.


In Lexington, VisitLEX and Keeneland Racecourse joined forces with non-profit community kitchen FoodChain to create Nourish Lexington and support local hospitality members by hiring unemployed restaurant workers to prepare meals for locals in need.

Apron Inc. is a non-profit founded in 2011 with the intent to assist independent restaurant employees struggling through situations like illnesses and natural disasters. The organization is currently offering financial aid to workers diagnosed with COVID-19, and is actively seeking more ways to raise more money and offer more assistance.


The Made in New Orleans Foundation (MiNO) serves hospitality professionals of color by providing emergency relief funds via their Build Your Business program and New Orleans Hospitality BIPOC Network. Click here for grant information, updates and resources.

We Help Nola has a useful list of COVID-19 resources on their website, from food and utlilty aid to workers compensation assistance, wellness help and more. Click here to access the full list.

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation has established a Hospitality Industry Relief Fund in response to the impact of the COVID-19 and Hurricane Laura on the hospitality industry across the Gulf Coast. Industry employees in crisis across can apply for emergency relief grants, as well as financial aid to cover shelter and food, medical and utility bills and more. Click here to apply for aid. 


The City of Quincy’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Quincy Chamber of Commerce have established the City of Quincy Hospitality Support Fund, designed to assist with costs relating to rent and leases for members of the hospitality industry. For more information about submitting an applicaiton or accessing meal assistance, click here.


The first pay-what-you-can restaurant in Minneapolis, Provision Community Restaurant, has shifted its model amidst the COVID-19 crisis by providing free meals twice daily for anyone in need, especially restaurant workers.


The Rieger has transformed from restaurant to a Crossroads Community Kitchen that’s also accepting donations and providing meals for service industry workers and anyone else in need of assistance during the pandemic from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.


The people behind Honey Salt, Graffiti Bao and other restaurants have partnered to launch Delivering with Dignity, a program that takes excess food from restaurants and serves meals to low-income families in the Las Vegas area. To volunteer for the project or request a meal, call 888-603-3548.

New York

Hot Bread Kitchen is a New York City-based nonprofit that creates economic opportunity through careers in food. Click here for a full list of resources available or call 929-292-9226 to connect with a support team member who can provide financial assistance, resources to source food pantries, emotional support, childcare help, domestic violence support and more for unemployed workers throughout the state of New York.  

The Servers Workers Coalition provides mutual aid and grocery stipends to unemployed restaurant workers.  Click here to apply for $50 a week grocery stipends (available for pickup or delivery).

New Jersey

Fulfill partners and the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association are providing a meal stipend program that pays restaurants to supply meals to the community. Click here to find a pantry or soup kitchen, get assistance with food stamps, or get information about taxes, health care and more.

North Carolina

A Place at the Table in Raleigh allows guests to pay what they can for meals. Call 919-307-8914 to place an order for delivery or curbside pickup. 


The Ohio Restaurant Association started the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which is providing grants to members of the state’s hospitality industry. Workers can go here to verify their previous employment and fill out an application. 

Service! provides relief and aid hospitality workers in the Franklin County in Columbus. Click here to learn more and apply for a grant.


Hunger Free Oklahoma launched Tulsa Kitchens Unite, a program that pays restaurants and their workers to remain open and prepare free meals for Tulsa families in need. 


Food Connect empowers hundreds of food pantries, meal sites, and emergency response centers with access to meals and on-demand distribution throughout Philadelphia. Click here to receive free meals.

South Carolina

Charleston-based East Island Brewing Co. established its Spread the Love Relief Fund to support hospitality workers in all states where Island Brands are sold: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Industry workers can apply to receive donations here.

Charleston Hospitality Group (CHG) is preparing free hot meals for its employees and other hospitality workers, as well as healthcare professionals, at all of its Toast locations in Charleston, as part of its new “Full Belly, Full Hearts” campaign. People are welcome to pick up one meal per day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.


Dallas’ 8020 Hospitality's program, "Everybody Eats,” prepares free meals for service industry workers, available for safe curbside pickup at Hero Monday to Friday between 6 p.m. and  9 p.m.

Staff Meal Special is a  program to feed the Dallas restaurant community during COVID-19. In-need restaurant workers can pick up a two-serving meal from a local restaurant. Click here for information and notifications about the weekly changing pickup location for meals.


Shift Meals mobilizes restaurants and agricultural producers statewide to produce and distribute meals to those in need, while providing employment to restaurant workers.  Click here to request meals in Burlington, Montpelier, Waitsfield, or Quechee.


Richmond-based Holli Fund is offering grants to food service workers; those in need of assistance can apply here.


Along with the Seattle Restaurant AllianceUpTogether and the Seattle Foundation, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz helped put together a new coalition, The Plate Fund, to provide $500 grants to in-need restaurants workers throughout King County, as quickly as possible. 

Big Table is an organization that supports unemployed hospitality workers in Seattle, Spokane, and San Diego, Calif., as well as on a national level. Click here to access unemployment applications, food bank searches, relief fund information, legal advice, baby supplies and more.

Washington, D.C.

Silver Diner at Rio and Real Food for Kids kicked off Chefs Feeding Families, a program to help feed needy families. Click here for more information on curbside delivered meals every weekday.

Beer hall Hook Hall has teamed up with Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington to create Hook Hall Helps, which puts together care packages of pivotal essentials (e.g. groceries, household supplies) and industry family meals for restaurant workers. Click here for the full schedule and for information on applying for unemployment benefits


We will continue to update this resource list; please let us know about regional and national resources and job listings we can share in the comments below or by emailing

Good Morning/Afternoon/Night, Thank you for taking the time to read this. I started this GoFundMe page to ask for assistance to help me help others in need. I've been working in the hospitality business for my whole 25 year career, from behind the kitchen to behind the bar to table-side. I've helped hundreds of thousands guests from Cape Cod/Boston to Palm Beach, FL. I've worked aside world renowned chefs and studied under Master Sommeliers. I've worked in the halls of the Kennedy Compound in HyannisPort, Ma. to Mar a Lago in Palm Beach, Fl. Let me tell you about a non-profit I was in the process of getting off the ground..... "Home is Where the Heart Is" will be a 501c3 non-profit organization helping seniors and indigent get back home. I've experienced this first hand when i saw how many seniors may move to retire in Florida, but when they get sick or in need of consistent care they get stuck in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities hundreds and even thousands of miles from the rest of their families. It is very costly and time consumptive to move someone who might be mobility impaired. We would assist by working with families by providing options to get their loved ones closer and provide a senior move manager and traveling nurse if needed. We would also do all the coordinating with other care facilities for a smooth, stress-free transition. Since precautions have been put in place for the COVID-19 virus, I have been put out of work and my savings are being depleted rapidly making my vision of giving back darker as i try to survive myself. If anyone could find it in their heart to help me help others.....once my 501c3 paperwork goes thru....I can make future donations tax deductible!