Restaurant-Workers Organization Starts Coronavirus Relief Fund

Upper East Side restaurant Bondurants. Photo: Liz Clayman

New York’s restaurants and bars have been officially shut down, following an order from Mayor Bill de Blasio that owners restrict service to delivery and takeout. It’s a necessary public-safety move aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, but it also leaves restaurant workers in the lurch. To help address that, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation announced that it’s forming a COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund for restaurant workers.

The organization says that it will focus on supporting “an industry in crisis,” including both workers and small-business owners. Restaurant workers are a particularly vulnerable group who are typically paid low wages and many live in poverty. Many are among the millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured, and paid time off is, simply put, not something that exists in their world. All of this is even more difficult for the undocumented immigrants who work in the industry.

Through its relief fund, the RWCF will provide aid by direct money to those organizations that are doing on-the-ground work, use its impact investing budget to provide zero-interest loans so restaurants can maintain payroll or reopen, and provide relief for individuals facing economic hardship or a health crisis due to coronavirus. Additionally, the RWCF is creating a list of resources related to the coronavirus crisis and plans to collect data from workers and restaurant owners who have been affected.

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Restaurant-Workers Org Starts Coronavirus Relief Fund