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Celebrity chef Guy Fieri has partnered with the National Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation to offer grants for America’s out-of-work restaurant workers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“They’ve been serving us for years, in the restaurant business. Let’s serve them,” Fieri said during a Monday appearance on Fox and Friends.
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced the initiative Friday, confirming that Fieri would be leading the fundraising drive for its Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF). Under the program, food service workers would be able to apply for grants of $500 each to put towards housing, groceries, medical costs or other living expenses while out of work.
“It’s an industry that’s really people-driven,” Fieri said. “And a lot of these folks are living paycheck to paycheck. Not many of them are salaried; a lot of them are hourly. A very hard-hit group… they’re the ones that are really paying the price.”
As of Monday morning, Fieri said the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund had already received $8.3 million in donations toward its $100 million goal.
Fieri added that one of the “great things” about the program — which is formally called Restaurant Relief America — is that anyone who donates can be sure their entire donation is going straight to those who need it most.
“One hundred percent of the donations go directly to the employees,” Fieri said. “There’s not going to be administration fees, there’s no BS, there’s no red tape.”
Fieri said that roughly 3 million food service workers were currently out of work amid the COVID-19 health crisis, while the National Restaurant Association estimates that up to 5 of 7 million, total, may be out of work in the coming months.
“In the face of this pandemic, we are asking the nation to join us in protecting vulnerable restaurant workers through your generous financial support,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF, in a press release. “Please donate online immediately at RERF.US so we can help those in need.”
Impacted restaurant workers can apply for grants starting April 2. Those wishing to donate, or apply, can learn more at RERF.us.