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Food Matters: How You Can Help This Year

This year, the restaurant industry has faced unprecedented struggles—with an expected loss of $240 billion by the end of 2020 in the U.S., and the most lost jobs of any industry, according to the National Restaurant Association. Even as the food world has gotten creative, where possible—with restaurants adding propane heaters, wind-blockers and private igloos, in an attempt to allow for social distancing and outdoor dining—indoor dining still proves challenging, particularly as the temperatures drop and mandates have gone into effect once again in major cities.

The restaurant industry is also one of the few industries that has not received government funding or any sort of financial offset during the pandemic. In her Indagare Global Conversations episode with Melissa Biggs Bradley,  restaurateur Camilla Marcus explained that restaurants “have the least access to capital, and we employ the most people. So when you talk about the perfect storm of what industries are harmed, we are the top of that list, and we have been all but ignored when it comes to specific relief packages.” In October, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and chefs David Chang and Tom Colicchio urged the U.S. Senate to pass the Restaurant Act of 2020 (Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive) as soon as possible. The bill would help smaller, independent restaurants cover operating costs, payroll and Covid-19 health-safety measures through government grants with up to $120 billion allocated to help revitalize the industry. According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a group formed to rally around the independent restaurants, more than 11 million restaurant employees will lose their jobs without federal support and four out of 10 independent restaurants will not survive. These are sobering numbers. Until more relief (and the protections of the vaccine are fully felt), here are ways you can help support restaurants right now:

Related: Nonprofits to Help in the Age of Coronavirus

Three Ways to Help Restaurants and Food Businesses

As the holidays fast approach, consider supporting some of your favorite restaurants and small businesses during this unprecedented time in three easy ways:

1. Purchase a gift card or order a holiday meal from one or more of your favorite restaurants to help them through this challenging period. The James Beard Foundation has compiled a great list of restaurants that ship tasty products and provisions from independents like Black Pig Meat Co. and Zingerman’s Deli.

2. Donate to charitable organizations, including José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, which is working to supply food to the most vulnerable communities and creating opportunities for restaurant workers. Its network of Chefs for America has created a support system in 400 cities across 35 states and more than 2,400 restaurants.

3. Spice up someone’s holidays with flavorful products from women-owned food brands sourced from all over the world, through the brand-new website givingbroadly.com, started by longtime former Food & Wine editor in chief Dana Cowin. You’ll find something to satisfy all the foodies on your list: Asian comfort food, sweet and savory snacks, chai, curry sauces, spices, Ethiopian honey and so much more.

Related: Restaurateur Camilla Marcus on Saving the Food Industry as We Know It

– Jen Barr on December 14, 2020

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