With Louisiana bars and restaurant dining rooms closed until at least April 13, hundreds of New Orleans service industry employees are out of work, with many more sure to follow. And while there are various ways to support the city’s favorite restaurants — many of which are open for takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery — their former workers are also in need of immediate help.
As diners are looking for ways to support their favorite restaurant staffers, Eater New Orleans will update a running list of relief funds, grants, and other initiatives intended to help the city’s service and hospitality industry in the coming weeks or months. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with updates.
Note: This list does not currently include individual restaurant or restaurant group relief funds for former employees.
- Culture Aid NOLA: CAN is working with restaurants, management groups, suppliers, and chefs to provide access to healthy food for out of work service and entertainment workers, and also assists with Medicaid access navigation and advocacy for cultural groups. Culture Aid Nola is a collaboration between MACCNO, NOMAF, No Hunger NOLA, Healthy Hospitality, and others.
- Go Fund Bean: In addition to the NOLA Virtual Tip Jar and NOLA Tipping Party (both below), this version is specifically for baristas. The Instagram account @gofundbean opens up virtual tip jars for cafes.
- Greater New Orleans Foundation Service and Hospitality Family Assistance Program: An application-based grant program for local service and hospitality workers. To qualify for the $1,000 grant, applicants musth ave earned below 80 percent of the Area Median Income prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and worked more than 32 hours per week in restaurants, bars, or hotels in GNOF’s 13-parish region prior to March 9.
- New Orleans Business Alliance Gig Economy Relief Fund: NOLABA is committing $100,000 to initiate a relief fund to meet the needs of gig economy workers who have been directly impacted by loss of income; the goal is to increase the fund assets to a minimum of $500,000.
- New Orleans Tipping Party: Alist of bartenders around the city and their Venmos so that you can get funds to bartenders directly.
- NOLA Virtual Tip Jar: A former local service industry employee has created a public Google doc listing the Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal usernames of New Orleans-area service industry workers so people can donate to workers directly.
- POB United: Port Orleans Brewing Co. is partnering with local suppliers Natco, Louisiana Fresh Produce, and brand Blue Runner Red Beans to serve freshly prepared food for pickup for service industry employees. The group expects to give out about 500 meals every Wednesday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. until through May (at least).
- Restaurant Employee Relief Fund: The National Restaurant Association has launched a relief fund offering grants of $500 for restaurant industry employees who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment.
- Second Harvest Food Bank: Second Harvest Food Bank is establishing distribution sites for members of the hospitality industry and gig economy (with help from Evacuteer and the above-mentioned CAN). Drive-up food pantries will be held at Connect Church of Algiers (1110 Kabel Dr.) from 9 a.m. to noon the next four Tuesdays (April 7, 14, 21 and 28); and from 9 a.m. to noon at Holy Angels (3500 St. Claude Ave.) the next four Thursdays (April 9, 16, 23 and 30) and the next four Saturdays (April 4, 11, 18 and 25).
- United Way of Southeast Louisiana Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund: United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) created a fund to provide one-time emergency grants up to $500 to hospitality workers unable to afford basic financial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. A percentage of proceeds from a new series of city-wide curbside Friday fish-fries — with participation from six of New Orleans’s top restaurants — goes to the fund.
- WeHelp NOLA: A local organization that helps New Orleans restaurant workers access free mental health care sessions will extend the service to to any service industry employee affected by COVID-19 for the month of May, regardless of membership. Available sessions will be open for scheduling on May 1 at wehelpnola.com/free-for-all. A $30 donation opens up one free therapy session for an industry member in need, with the ultimate goal of 70 sessions becoming available in May.
Did we miss a local fund or initiative to support New Orleans’s service industry? Heard of a restaurant closing permanently due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic? Let us know.