The COVID-19 crisis continues to be devastating for thousands of restaurant-industry workers who have lost their jobs or have had to reduce their hours. So many of these workers rely on every paycheck to afford necessities like food, transportation, baby products and medicine.
Since April 6, The Plate Fund has been providing immediate one-time payments of $500 to restaurant workers who have been hardest hit in King County. For many, these payments help "bridge the gap" between the time they received their last paychecks and when they have access to federal stimulus payments and/or unemployment insurance benefits. For others, this is the only money they receive.
Our goal has always been to help as many people as possible, with priority given to applicants most in need, and the order in which applications are received.
“People who work in restaurants have a genuine desire to make people happy. One day everything was okay, and the next day everything’s gone. I don’t have anything to back me up. I need money. If this goes on for another two months, I will have nothing.”
“I have not received any financial assistance from the government, the claim is still being processed. I’ve had to borrow money from friends and family to pay bills and eat. That’s hard, especially on my mental health.”
Thank you for your interest in supporting The Plate Fund. The Plate Fund is no longer accepting donations, although we are continuing to accept applications and distribute funds to those in need. We encourage donors to reach out to the following organizations that work directly with communities most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Asian Counseling and Referral Service promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities—including immigrants, refugees and American-born—by developing, providing and advocating for innovative, effective and efficient community-based multilingual and multicultural services.
Managers, owners and employees in the hospitality industry may make a personal referral for an employee in crisis to Big Table, which then connects workers with a variety of needs to a trusted network of resource providers, including doctors, dentists, therapists, auto mechanics and lawyers.
Africatown International and Building Changes provide direct cash assistance so community members impacted by COVID-19 can meet basic needs such as food, utilities and rent.
El Centro de La Raza provides more than 40 different services to Latinx community members. Their Emergency Response Fund supports a variety of programs, including a food bank, senior services, financial empowerment classes, childcare and technology support to students.
As communities in Washington continue to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, there remain thousands of people without enough to eat. Washington Food Fund is raising money to provide food and supplies for those in need during this crisis.
Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network is providing $1,000 one-time direct payments to immigrants experiencing hard times because of COVID-19 and who aren’t eligible for federal financial relief or unemployment insurance.
We are transitioning to ensure that we continue reaching people who are in the greatest need – including those who may not be eligible for government assistance due to immigration status or other issues. All funds distributed to new applicants after Sunday April 26th will be made available exclusively through our community partners or using codes that applicants receive from their employers or former employers.
#ThePlateFund was created to provide emergency bridge payments to restaurant workers until they received unemployment insurance and/or federal stimulus payments, and to workers who may not be eligible for government assistance due to immigration status or other issues. Though our desire is to assist all workers who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the need is enormous. Our plan going forward is to continue working with community-based organizations and restaurant owners, and focus on reaching workers that have the greatest need.
The restaurant industry is being hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The National Restaurant Association recently predicted that restaurants across the country will lose $225 billion in business, and that 5 to 7 million service and kitchen jobs could be lost over the next three months. And the effects are certainly being felt right here in King County. When the COVID-19 crisis hit the Seattle area, more than 100,000 people were employed at some 5,000 food establishments in King County. Thousands of restaurants have closed, suspended operations and let go all or some of their staff.
The Washington State Employment Security Department reported that accommodation and food service unemployment claims rose ten-fold in a single week during the third week of March and reached over 68,000 total new claims for the month. Every single one of King County’s more than 5,000 restaurants are being impacted, especially single-establishment and smaller restaurants that may not have the resources to support their staffs through the crisis. A vast majority of these workers rely on every paycheck, as well as tips, to support themselves and their families. They need to pay for necessities like food, transportation, baby products and medicine now.
Government support is on the way for many, but for a lot of workers it is not arriving quickly enough. King County’s unemployment system has seen a more than 2,000% rise in claims in just three short weeks and is working through a backlog of these claims, delaying payments to many of those in need. Similarly, the individual Economic Impact Payments offered as part of the Federal Government’s CARES Act might take between three and four months to reach some recipients. This means many of our local restaurant workers currently have reduced or no income to cover rent, food, utilities, healthcare and other basic needs. The Plate Fund hopes to help fill this gap with an immediate cash infusion of $500.
Timing matters most. While there is no direct comparison, we can take lessons from other initiatives. Quick cash transfers at moments of need have proven effective as a disaster response and in helping people avoid housing instability and food insecurity. Cash is the best tool as it provides individuals with the flexibility to meet their most urgent needs. There is a strong global evidence base that cash transfers are efficient and effective, particularly when delivered intentionally and at the right moment. It also reduces administrative costs, freeing up resources to reach more people.
The Plate Fund provides $500 emergency relief grants to individuals who live and work in King County who have lost their jobs in the restaurant industry or are experiencing significantly reduced hours of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. The application is a simple process. To apply, applicants must:
Payments are made electronically. Applications will be processed as fast as possible, however processing times may vary based on the volume of applications received.
Applications are reviewed and processed by UpTogether, a digital capital exchange platform that helps low-income people accelerate their economic mobility.
We recognize a small percentage of restaurant workers do not have bank accounts. We are working to add functionality to provide payments via debit or gift cards in the coming weeks. We will also provide applicants with information about where they may open no-cost bank accounts. In addition, we have created a way for restaurant owners and managers to target these relief payments to their most needy former employees. In some cases, The Plate Fund will provide unique codes to restaurant owners to distribute directly to affected workers. Individuals who receive a code will have to complete the online application, but their applications will receive expedited processing.
This fund is the only one of its kind that enables emergency cash to go directly to individuals who worked in one of the hardest hit sectors of our local economy. It is one part of a set of complementary efforts all designed to direct support to those most impacted by the current crisis. We are working collaboratively with the United Way of King County, local philanthropies as well as our city, county and state leaders to help as many of our neighbors as possible.
In addition to the Schultz Family Foundation, partners and supporters of #ThePlateFund currently include these organizations and restaurant owners: