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Food, Lifestyle

Things You Can Do to Help L.A.’s Food Industry During COVID-19

April 2, 2020 by Christina Champlin
Kitchen View at Manuela / Photo by: Christina Champlin

To stop the spread of COVID-19, people around the world have been ordered to shelter in place. That’s bad news for the food industry. Since the rise of the virus, restaurants have been forced to permanently shutter, lay off employees, or survive on what little delivery/takeout business they can get. Billions of dollars will be lost and millions of people will lose their jobs. This is the greatest crisis the industry has ever faced.

Los Angeles is one of the greatest food cities in the world. This pandemic will destroy our food landscape in ways we can’t imagine. Try to picture an L.A. where you’ll never eat that dumpling, slice of pizza, or taco from your favorite place ever again. Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

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In a time of uncertainty, all we can do is take matters into our own hands and hold onto what little power we have left. It’s time to spring into action. The restaurant industry is working tirelessly to support their employees and the business, but they need our help. Below is a list of resources on how to help. Pick and choose or tackle every single item, it’s up to you.

Pasta Sisters Bolognese / Photo by: Christina Champlin

Order delivery or takeout by calling restaurants directly. Avoid delivery apps, which can take up to a 30% chunk of the earnings. If you opt to pick up your own food, this helps restaurants save on time and gas. Do not pick up your own food if you are sick. If you must use a delivery app, find one that has waived fees like Doordash or Caviar.

Handy resources for restaurants offering delivery/takeout.

cake-monkey-mini-cakes
Cake Monkey Mini Cakes

Check out our list of 17 L.A. Bakeries That Need Your Help. Baked goods are usually pretty freezer-friendly. Consider buying in bulk, freezing, and thawing out when future pastry cravings strike.

Shop for groceries at a restaurant. Many restaurants, now closed to dine-in customers, have transformed into mini-grocers and pantries for takeout or delivery. Check out our list of 15+ Restaurants Where You Can Buy Groceries and Pantry Staples.

Purchase some booze from restaurants. Mayor Eric Garcetti has approved restaurants and bars to deliver alcohol straight to your doorstep. Many places have a lot of liquor in storage and now, they would appreciate it if you helped them drink it. There are lots of options to choose from. Grab a bottle of wine, a cocktail kit, or growlers of beer. Check out our list of 17 L.A. Spots To Get Cocktails, Wine, and Beer for Delivery or Takeout.

Purchase bonds from the Dining Bonds Initiative. Inspired by the war bonds sold during WWII, it’s basically a virtual gift certificate to participating restaurants and bars sold for 75% of its total value. For example, if you purchase a $75 dining bond, you’ll have $100 in credit to spend once things open to the public again. A glance at the list we spotted includes Coni’Seafood, E.P. & L.P., Genever, El Cochinito, and Barcito. Also, all 1933 Group venues are participating and donating 100% of their bond revenues to their staff. If you’re a fan of these places or had them on your list to try, this might be a good time to purchase a bond to use later. To purchase a bond, please call the restaurants directly.

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If you can, donate money to organizations providing assistance to the food and beverage industry. Here’s a list of organizations to donate to:

  • The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation: The COVID-19 crisis relief fund gives 50% of funds to individual workers, 25% to non-profits serving restaurant workers, and 25% to zero-interest loans for restaurants to get back on their feet.
  • The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund: Helps restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. 100% of the fund’s proceeds will go to providing grants to restaurant workers. 
  • California Restaurant Association: Provides restaurant employees with financial assistance during this crisis. Text RESTAURANT to 91999 to donate.
  • Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE): Provides assistance to food and beverage employees who have been diagnosed or who have a family member who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • The United States Bartender’s Guild: Raising funds for its COVID-19 Relief Campaign.
  • One Fair Wage: Providing cash assistance to tipped and service workers affected by the pandemic.
  • The James Beard Foundation: Gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants for independent food and beverage businesses.
  • VERVET: a local sparking craft cocktail company co-founded by L.A. bartender Hope Ewing, VERVET created the #CheersChallenge. It’s a social media movement aimed at raising funds for those affected. Participants are asked to share a virtual drink with a friend and commit to donating to a nonprofit that provides relief to the hospitality industry. For more information, head to cheerschallenge.com.

Get the government to help out. Remember, solutions can be achieved by group action! Below are some resources to get you started.

Contact Congress and tell them to support the National Restaurant Association restaurant recovery proposal. The package advocates for over $300 billion to save up to 7 million jobs through grants, loans, and deferments.

If you’re a chef or restauranteur in California, message The California Hospitality Coalition on Instagram with your full name, title, and the name of your operation to sign a letter to Governor Newsom. The coalition is calling on the Governor for the abatement of rent and mortgage payments for all restaurants and landlords starting April 2020, as well as for payroll tax in Q1 and Q2.

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Petitions that need signatures.

Participate in the One More Helping gift card campaign. Purchase a gift card from a restaurant on the list and the restaurant will donate $1 of every gift card purchased to another vulnerable business community or worthy nonprofit, creating a ripple effect of support in the current challenging economic landscape. Visit www.onemorehelping.com to view participating restaurants, their cause of choice, and details on how to purchase gift cards. Share the campaign using the hashtag #onemorehelping. Gift cards in support of the One More Helping initiative will be available through May 31, 2020.

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