Here's Where Hospitality Workers in Need Can Find Help

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

The recent job report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reflected a promising addition of 4.8 million jobs in June (and 1.5 million of them were in eating and drinking establishments), but the unemployment rate remains at an astonishingly low 11.1 percent, and another 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, and the G.D.P fell another 9.5% in the second quarter of the year. And even though every state in the country eventually allowed restaurants to open with capacity restrictions and safety measures in place, recent COVID-19 spikes have prompted city officials to reclose bars and limit seating capacity in restaurants (here's a list of affected states so far), and chefs/owners to remain wary of reopening their businesses if they will only be shut down again. With millions of restaurant employees still out of work, and with the $600-a-week enhanced unemployment benefit expiring last week, 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. Lee recently announced the addition of Broken Spanish as a new Los Angeles relief kitchen. The restaurant partnered with A Place Called Home this week to package more than 11,000 meals for L.A. families in need. Click here for the full list of community kitchens in your city as well as pickup details.

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.


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. 


Che Fico is offering free meals to people in need through the Che Fico Family Meal Program; book online to order a meal 48 hours in advance.

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. 


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

Offering both free meals and mental health services for hospitality employees affected by COVID-19, Operation Family Meal is accessible Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at locations throughout Denver. The organization comes from not-for-profit CHOWKhesed Wellness and several restaurant partners, including Hinman’s BakeryIl Posto and American Elm

Denver food hall Zeppelin Station, in partnership with nonprofit Friends & Family, is offering free meals for out-of-work industry members on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each day features a different meal from one of the food hall’s vendors, and orders can be texted to 720-446-8731 the day prior. 


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. 


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 between August 10-21.

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 i 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.


Toups' Meatery is offering free Family Meal every day at 3 p.m. for industry members in need. Call the restaurant ahead of time so they can safely prepare and box your meal.


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.   

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. 


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. 

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.


Houston-based Second Servings has partnered with Hess Corporation and Sysco for its “Dinner’s On Us” program, offering family meals to take home for local hospitality workers in need. The organization aims to donate 10,000 meals per week every Tuesday and Thursday between 10 a.m. and noon. More details here.

Dallas’ 8020 Hospitality launched a new program called "Everybody Eats,” preparing 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.


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!