Chefs and Restaurants

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 reopening of restaurants, bars, and patios around the country, the hospitality industry continues to face the devastating effects of the pandemic. This YouTube video was released by the NRA in an effort to call on local leaders to incentivize efforts to prolong the outdoor dining season with tax credits, streamline the permit process and offer funding for the purchase of equipment. More than 44 percent of restaurant revenue comes from outdoor dining, and keeping patios open through the colder months will be vital to many restaurant's survival, especially with the closure of indoor dining in places like San Francisco, MichiganIllinois and NYCHere's a tracker that breaks down restaurant restrictions, mask mandates, closures, curfews and more by state, and here are the results from a recent restaurant impact survey that show the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic on the industry. Learn more about the action needed here. With millions of restaurant employees still out of work as we wait for government aid, 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 Employee Retention Credit (ERC) offered relief to certain employers affected by COVID-19 in 2020, in the form of a fully refundable federal payroll tax credit. It has now been extended into the first two quarters of 2021, with certain changes – most notably the fact that employers can now receive both a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and an ERC, subject to certain restrictions. 
The tax credits max out at $5,000 per employee in 2020 and $14,000 per employee in 2021. Learn more here.

Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation has established an assistance program offering health, financial, and legal aid for restaurant and hospitality workers in need. Applicants must be employed in the restaurant and/or hospitality industry for a minimum of three years or currently unemployed, furloughed or working few hours having previously worked for a minimum of three years prior to current unemployment status. Click here to enroll and apply for aid.

Common Pantry supplies free hot meals, produce and groceries for those in need. Click here to get help.

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.

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. 


If you live or work in San Francisco, you can sign up for an email or text notification from the city when you are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines are still in limited supply, but sign up here to register and be notified when one is available.

The Right to Recover Program provides $1,285 to reimburse or pay reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses to any worker who lives in San Francisco and tests postive for COVID-19. Click here for more information and to apply for aid.

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. To apply for a shared spaces equity grant, click here.

If you are a San Francisco-based service industry worker affected by COVID-19, click here for financial support.

Small businesses interested in applying for the San Francisco Latino Small Businesses Fund can get more info here. Deadline to apply for aid is January 14, 2021. Email or call 415-612-2014 for more info.

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. 


Wherewithall is offering community relief cooking every Tuesday in collaboration with Abundance Setting, an initiative to support and advance working mothers in the culinary industry. For more info click here.

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 $500 grants 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 are now open, and available in English and Spanish. 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. 


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.


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