This year, we’ve been locked down, quarantined, and constantly shown the sobering statistics of COVID. The pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities and food insecurities - but as our health care system broke down, restaurant staff, owners, and workers rose to the occasion in a multitude of ways. In any year, these would be the kinds of efforts worth celebrating - but given the year restaurants have had, we’d call them straight-up heroic.
Restaurants like La Morada in New York ran a soup kitchen and fed 650 unemployed people a day on top of their regular business, South Philly Barbacoa raised over $13,500 for their undocumented staff, Houston gay bar Buddy’s served as a polling place and helped 200 people vote, and hundreds of restaurants took percentages out of their profit to support multiple organizations like FareStart in Seattle, World Central Kitchen, and The Lee Initiative.
And those are just a start. Here are 11 more ways we saw restaurants step up for their communities this year, by the numbers.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. How Restaurants Supported Their Communities This Year, By The Numbers is presented by Capital One.
137 Laid-Off Restaurant Employees In New York Rehired
Feed The Frontlines is an NYC-based organization started by Luca Di Pietro (owner of the Tarallucci e Vino restaurant group), which works with restaurants to feed healthcare workers and those facing food insecurity. Since mid-March, they’ve given out over 144,000+ free meals and served over 100 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the New York area.
325 Grocery Bags Provided For Unemployed Miami Hospitality Workers
Miami cafe All Day supplied over 300 grocery bags filled with local eggs, milk, produce, and more to out-of-work food and beverage industry employees in the city. Funds for the grocery bags came from All Day’s Grocery Relief Fund, which raised $10,000.
250-300 Unemployed Seattle Hospitality Workers Fed Every Day
32 Weeks Since Proyecto Tamal Launched To Support Latinx Cooks
Shortly after the pandemic hit, Chef Ana Caballero started the Philly tamale pop-up Proyecto Tamal to employ Latinx cooks impacted by the pandemic. Currently in week 32, the weekly-rotating pop-up has been helmed by over 50 people who otherwise would have been without work. All of the proceeds from the sales go to the cooks who design and prepare the menu each week.
4 Community Fridges Set Up In Brooklyn
Since June, Playground Coffee Shop has been maintaining a couple of fridges around their Bed-Stuy neighborhood to make sure people have access to free food. All fridges are stocked and kept running by Playground Youth, a community-based organization that operates out of the coffee shop and tackles food equity and literacy, and supports arts and culture through a range of accessible programs and events. If you want to help Playground fight nutrition insecurity, you can also send them cash on Venmo at @playgroundyouth (the name will come up as Zenat Begum, Playground’s founder and owner).
3,500 San Francisco Hospital Workers Fed
During the first month of the pandemic, Escape From New York Pizza made thousands of pies to feed local healthcare workers. In October, the SF pizza spot also provided meals to 250 food-insecure people in the city’s Bayview neighborhood.
1,000 Takeout Containers Of Guisado De Pollo A Week
Chicago Mexican spot Mi Tocaya Antojería distributed these meals to families at elementary schools in the Logan Square neighborhood. They also offered meal discounts to Chicago Public School families and staff.
300 Gallons Of Hand Sanitizer Distilled Instead Of Liquor
In early March, small Los Angeles distillery Dead Of Night pivoted to hand sanitizer. In collaboration with LA’s Frogtown Brewery (who donated over 400 gallons of wort), they were able to provide medical-grade hand sanitizer to local hospitals and medical centers, and also sold it on their website - for every small-size of sanitizer sold they donated $5 to the USC Health Center.
50-60 COVID-Positive Hospital Patients In El Paso Fed Every Day
Chef Rulis Gonzalez and his team at International Kitchen in El Paso started feeding COVID-positive people in early November. For over five weeks (and counting), they’ve provided four meals a day to patients in the field hospital at El Paso’s Convention Center.
$1,000 Raised By Doña Dona To Help Immigrants
Washington, DC donut pop-up Doña Dona raised $1,000 for Ayuda DC, a DC-based organization that provides legal, language, and other services to immigrants. The pop-up is run by Paolo Velez, the co-founder of Bakers Against Racism and Executive Pastry Chef at Maydan and Compass Rose, and Daniella Senior, Founder and President of Colada Shop.
400 Jobs Created For Laid-Off Restaurant Workers In Miami
Versailles, La Carreta, and the group’s 12 other Miami restaurants made sure that their employees had jobs waiting for them when they had to lay them off. They partnered with local Cuban supermarket Sedano so their workers would have temporary jobs at the grocery store until the restaurants were open again.