Service Industry Assistance/Relief

The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was created to help restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Through this Fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Grants will be awarded as soon as possible to those individuals who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). This Fund is operated by the NRAEF, whose mission is to attract, empower and advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workers. For more information

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan When applying for Coronavirus (COVID-19) disaster declarations, please only select Economic Injury when inquiring about your business losses. Apply here:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. —Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced that workers in the state who are not able to work due to the coronavirus outbreak will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits. Based on current guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of Labor is modifying existing unemployment compensation rules to allow workers to file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits who are affected in any of the following way:

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency 
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns 
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 
  • Or, those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19. 

The requirement that a laid-off worker be “able and available” to work while receiving unemployment compensation benefits has been modified for claimants who are affected by COVID-19 in any of the situations listed above. Additionally, claimants will also not have to search for other work provided they take reasonable steps to preserve their ability to come back to that job when the quarantine is lifted or the illness subsides. The waiting week, which is typically the first week of compensable benefits, will also be waived. Certain criteria and exceptions may apply, and are subject to change. Verification of illness or quarantine may be required. Workers can file for benefits online beginning March 23, 2020, at or by calling 1-866-234-5382. Online filing is encouraged.


People who are being paid to work from home, or those receiving paid sick or vacation leave are NOT eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, regardless if they experience any or all of the situations listed above. Employers who decide to shut down due to coronavirus concerns should treat the shutdown as a temporary layoff. These rules are subject to change pending congressional action.

The USBG National Charity Foundation has created a Bartender Emergency Assistance Program to help service industry personnel who may be experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus outbreak. Eligible applicants can receive a grant to help with bills and other costs due to sudden loss or decrease of income. In order to qualify, an applicant must be a bartender or the spouse or child of a bartender. Applicants must provide tangible documentation of their emergency. Grant applications will not be denied based on the fact the bartender’s employment was terminated after the application was made. Funds will be distributed in lump sums to the recipient, or as determined by a Board of Directors based on needs of the recipient. For more eligibility criteria, and to apply, visit

(New York, NY): Restaurant Workers Community Foundation was founded in 2018 to advocate for gender equality, racial justice, fair wages, and healthy work environments in the restaurant industry. In the wake of the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic, RWCF’s full focus is on supporting workers, small business owners, and an industry in crisis. 

Restaurant workers make up 10 percent of America’s workforce, and they are among the country’s most vulnerable populations. More than 2.45 million restaurant workers live in poverty, and only 14 percent receive employer-sponsored health benefits. 

As restaurants across the country cut hours, suspend business, and close for good, many restaurant workers will be faced with long-term loss of income. For months to come, they will need help accessing government benefits and mental health services, paying their rent, and feeding their families. 

RWCF has established a Restaurant Workers COVID19 Crisis Relief Fundto: 

  • Immediately direct money to organizations leading on-the-ground efforts in the restaurant community. 
  • To bolster our impact investing budget to provide zero-interest loans to businesses to maintain payroll during closure or re-open once this crisis has passed.
  • To establish a relief fund for individual workers facing economic hardships or health crises as a direct result of COVID-19. 

“Up until now, RWCF has been relatively light on direct pleas for donations, and that was for a reason. We wanted to build a history of successful work before asking people to trust us with their charitable dollars,” said John deBary, RWCF co-founder and board president. “The coronavirus crisis has upended that strategy—we need to start working to help the most vulnerable among us NOW.”

RESOURCES for RESTAURANTS and WORKERS: RWCF is compiling an extensive list of resources and links related to the COVID-19 Crisis on its website, and, soon, we will collect data (qualitative and quantitative) from affected workers and restaurant owners so that we can work with local and national leaders to address the systemic issues the COVID19 pandemic has exposed. 

In a time when so many people feel powerless, we invite the industry, diners, and the larger community to: 

Donate funds to the Restaurant COVID19 Crisis Relief Fund.

Use RWCF’s resources and information on restaurant closures, financial resources, unemployment benefits, immigrant concerns, mental health, relief efforts, and more.  

Tell RWCF about your effortsto aid, sustain, and uplift restaurant workers in these difficult times.


About RWCF – 

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation is an advocacy and action nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers. We are a community dedicated to making the restaurant industry more hospitable to everyone.

Our public education seeks to change policy and workplace culture. One third of the funds we raise goes to our efforts to speak out for our community. We support other nonprofits that provide career training, conduct research on restaurant industry practices, and advocate for fair wage policies and worker rights. One third of our budget is dedicated to grantmaking. In our impact investing area we aim to use our dollars to affect the industry in two ways – supporting restaurant businesses that operate ethically and, eventually, using investment strategies to engage in shareholder advocacy. One third of our funds go to impact investing.