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What is The Plate Fund?

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.

Their Stories

Jesse, Head of Front of House / Bar Manager
Jesse, Head of Front of House / Bar Manager
“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.”
Ryan (she/her), Lead Bartender
Ryan (she/her), Lead Bartender
“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.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I donate to The Plate Fund?

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

    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.

  • Big Table

    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.

  • Centralized Diversion Fund, Africatown International

    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

    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.

  • Washington Food Fund

    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

    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.

Why and when are you transitioning from Open Enrollment to Code Access?

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.

How long will #ThePlateFund program continue?

#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.

Why focus on workers in the restaurant industry?

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.

Why can’t workers rely on government support via stimulus payments and unemployment benefits?

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.

Why provide cash?

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.

How does it work?

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:

  • Upload a pay stub dated on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Upload one form of government issued identification or two forms of alternate identification that includes an applicant’s residential address;
  • Demonstrate that their gross income is no more than $62,000 per year, inclusive of tips;
  • Provide bank account information;
  • Verify that they have experienced a decrease in work hours or loss of their job.

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.

How is The Plate Fund different from other efforts helping people financially impacted by the pandemic?

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.

Partners and Supporters

In addition to the Schultz Family Foundation, partners and supporters of #ThePlateFund currently include these organizations and restaurant owners:

  • Seattle Foundation
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • Falis Community Service
  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service
  • Charlie’s Produce
  • Charlie and Courtni Billow
  • The Bezos Family
  • Ellison Foundation
  • The Prado Group
  • Patty and Steve Fleischmann
  • Ray and Marilee Bowen
  • Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
  • Carroll Family Fund
  • Google.Org
  • Valor Equity Partners
  • Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
  • Lucy Helm
  • John Meisenbach
  • Jeff and Judy Greenstein
  • Michael and Iris Smith
  • The Ritt Family
  • Carol Bobo
  • Bruce and Jeannie Nordstrom
  • Neupert Family Foundation
  • Sid Lee (formerly Hornall Anderson)
  • UpTogether by Family Independence Initiative
  • #allinseattle
  • Amperity
  • Seattle Restaurants United
  • Washington Hospitality Association
  • Seattle Restaurant Alliance
  • The Starbucks Foundation
  • Nestlé Coffee Partners
  • Aakanksha Sinha and Uttam Mukherjee (Spice Waala)
  • Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid (Archipelago)
  • Adam McQueen (Skål Beer Hall)
  • Alesia Weiss (Right To Know Us)
  • Alex Prindle (Bok a Bok, The Skillet Group)
  • Alison Soike (Alison's Coastal Cafe and Bakery)
  • Alyssa Anderson (Piroshki on 3rd)
  • Alysson Wilson and Kevin Burzell (Kedai Makan)
  • Anais Custer (La Dive)
  • Art Stone (Honest Biscuits)
  • Bianca Szyperski (Jujubeet)
  • Blaine Wetzel (The Willows Inn)
  • Blind Tiger Cocktail Co.
  • Brandon Barnato (Bar Cotto)
  • Brandon Petit (Delancey, Dino's)
  • Brendan McGill (Hitchcock Restaurant Group)
  • Brian Canlis (Canlis)
  • Brian Claudio Smith (Baker's)
  • Brian Clevenger (Vendemmia, East Anchor Seafood, Raccolto, Le Messe, G.H. Pasta Co., Haymaker)
  • B-side
  • Cameron Hanin (Guerrilla Pizza Kitchen)
  • Carla Leonardi (Cafe Lago)
  • Chera Amlag and Geo Quibuyen (Hood Famous Bakeshop, Hood Famous Cafe + Bar)
  • Chris and Anu Elford (Rob Roy, Navy Strength No Anchor, Vinnie’s Raw Bar)
  • Christopher Poetter (Katsu Burger)
  • Christy Donnelly (RockCreek Seafood & Spirits, FlintCreek Cattle Co.)
  • Cody Westerfield (De La Soil Catering and Events)
  • Colleen Schroeder (BZs Sports Bar); Cynthia Burke (Cynthia's)
  • Daisley Gordon (Cafe Campagne)
  • Dan Bugge (Matt's in The Market, Radiator Whiskey, White Swan Public House)
  • Dan Crookston (Mean Sandwich)
  • Dan Olsby, Hannes Schindler, Matt Greenup and Rory McCormick (re:public, El Grito)
  • Dani Cone (Fuel Coffee)
  • Dave (Screwdriver Bar)
  • David Butler (Le Caviste)
  • David Nichols and Ian Nichols (Eight Row)
  • Davide Macchi and Filippo Fiori (Dué Cucina Italiana)
  • Debra Russell and Jill Buchanan (Eve)
  • DeVeaux Hill, James Weinman and Deming Mclise (Beer Star USA)
  • Doh Driver (Wayward Vegan Café)
  • Donna Moodie (Marjorie’s)
  • Doug Sowers and Joel Wood (Cafe Solstice)
  • Dustin Haarstad (Black Cat)
  • Dustin Ronspies (Art of the Table)
  • Edouardo Jordan (JuneBaby, Salare, Lucinda)
  • Efrem Fesaha (Boon Boona Coffee)
  • Eric Fisher (Copal, Pacifica)
  • Eric Johnson and Seth Hammond (Stateside, Foreign National)
  • Erik Hakkinen (Roquette); Erika White (Fat's Chicken and Waffles)
  • Ethan Stowell (Ethan Stowell Restaurants)
  • Fremont Brewing Co.
  • Garrett Doherty (Lionhead)
  • Gina Tolentino and Jerry Corso (Bar del Corso)
  • Gourmondo Co
  • Graham Graham (Mezcaleria Oaxaca)
  • Guitar Srisuthiamorn (Sugar Hill, Ayutthaya Thai)
  • Heather Chitty (Madres Kitchen)
  • Heather Earnhardt (The Wandering Goose)
  • Henri Schock and Soni Davè-Schock (Bottlehouse, Mr. West Cafe Bar)
  • Heong Soon Park (Meet Korean BBQ, Chan Seattle, Bacco Café)
  • Jaime Duggan (Gracia)
  • James Lim (Watson's Counter)
  • James Snyder (Sam's Tavern)
  • James Weimann, Deming Maclise and Rich Fox (Bastille, Poquitos, Macleod’s, Rhein Haus, Stoneburner, Seaplane)
  • Jan Parker (Jan Parker Cookery)
  • Jay Blackinton (Hogstone)
  • Jen and Max Petty (Eden Hill Restaurant, Eden Hill Provisions)
  • Jenessa Sneva (Taurus Ox)
  • Jeremy Hardy (Mioposto)
  • Jerry Patty (Taylor Shellfish)
  • Jiaxin Wang and Chong Boon Ooi (Ooink Ramen)
  • Joanne Herron (Cafe Presse, Le Pichet)
  • Joe & Ashley Russell (Russell's)
  • Joey Burgess (Cupcake Royale)
  • John Howie (Seastar, John Howie Steak)
  • John Rogers (Bar Sue)
  • John Sundstrom, Kelly Ronan and JM Enos (Chef Lark, Slab Sandwich, SouthpawPizza)
  • Jonah Bergman and Mike Leifur (Bait Shop)
  • Jonathan Fleming (Pioneer Square D&E)
  • Jonathan Silverberg (Schmaltzy's Deli, Napkin Friends)
  • Jose Luis Rodriguez (The Station)
  • Josh Grunig (Zylberschtein’s Delicatessen and Bakery)
  • Joshua Delgado and Jordan Melnikoff (Le Coin)
  • Julian and Lucas Lorenzo (Un Bien)
  • Julian Hagood (Harry’s Fine Foods, Harry’s Beach House)
  • Kari Brunson (Frankie & Jo's, Juicebox Café)
  • Karuna Long (Oliver’s Twist)
  • Kathy and Gerry Kingen (Salty's Restaurants)
  • Keasa Jones (Uncle Eddie’s Public House)
  • Kelley Kieser (Serafina, Cicchetti)
  • Kevin Smith and Polly Yakovich (Beast & Cleaver)
  • Kristi Brown (That Brown Girl Cooks)
  • Larry Kurofsky (Heavy Restaurant Group)
  • Lauren Garventa (The Ruby Brink Bar & Butcher)
  • Linda Derschang (The Derschang Group)
  • Linda Di Lello Morton & Tamara Murphy (Terra Plata)
  • Lluvia Walker (Place Pigalle)
  • MacKenzie DeVito (No Bones Beach Club)
  • Marcus Lalario (Lil Woodys Burgers and Shakes, Fats Chicken and Waffles, Ciudad, BarCiudad)
  • Maretta DeLaCruz (Wink Doughnuts)
  • Mark Shroder (Opus Co)
  • Matt and Emily Dann (The Corson Building)
  • Matt Janke and Jill Buchanan (Lecosho)
  • Matthew Powell (The Doctor's Office)
  • Max Heigh (Poke To The Max, The Stone House Café)
  • Megan James (Seattle Pops)
  • Meghan Seale (Canon, Ocho)
  • Melissa Miranda (Musang)
  • Michael Maione and Jean Wallace (Some Random Bar)
  • Michael Seale (Bar Harbor Bar)
  • Mike Walker (Hi-Spot Café)
  • Monica Dimas (Little Neon Taco, Westman's Bagel & Coffee)
  • Mutsuko Soma (Kamonegi)
  • Nancy Kelly (Good Bar)
  • Nat Stratton (Clarke, Cafe Flora, Floret, The Flora Bakehouse)
  • Newbies; Osiris Navarro (Golas Kitchen)
  • Paul Osher (Pork Chop & Co)
  • Pepa Brower and Dre Neeley (Gravy)
  • Perfecte and Alia Rocher (Tarsan i Jane)
  • Quentin Ertel (Havana, Havana Hospitality Group)
  • Rachel Antalek (Byen Bakeri)
  • Rachel Marshall (Rachel's Ginger Beer)
  • Rachel Yang and Seif Cherchi (Relay Restaurant Group)
  • Trey Lamont (Jerk Shack)
  • Renee Erickson (Bateau, The Whale Wins, The Walrus and the Carpenter)
  • Rick and Ann Yoder (Wild Ginger)
  • Rod Gambassi & Marc Adams (R&M Dessert Bar)
  • Rodney Hines (Metier Brewing Company)
  • Rory McCormick and Rachel Dugolecki (Single Shot)
  • Rumi Ohnui and Charlie Anthe (Moshi Moshi Sushi, Izakaya)
  • Ryan Donaldson (Gather Kitchen and Bar)
  • Ryan Lengle (Slicebox Pizza)
  • Ryan Suddendorf (Arriba Cantina)
  • Sam Thompson (Seattle Biscuit Company)
  • Sara Knowles (Restaurant Homer)
  • Sarah Penn (Frank's Oyster House & Champagne Parlor)
  • Seamus Platt (The Shambles)
  • Sean McAteer Alexis Folse (Hillside Bar)
  • Shawn Nickerson (Cafe Cesura)
  • Shota Nakajima (Adana)
  • Steve Nyman, Nathan Benedict and Greg Schaeffer (Union Bar)
  • Stuart Lane and Angela Lopez (Spinasse, Artusi)
  • Sun and Erin Hong (ByTae)
  • Suzette Jarding (Ristorante Machiavelli)
  • Tamara Murphy and Linda Di Lello Morton (Terra Plata)
  • Taylor Hoang (Taylor Hoang Restaurants Inc., Seatac Airport Restaurants, Pho Cyclo Cafe, District One Saigon)
  • Teferi Abay (Wonder Ethiopian Restaurant and Sport Bar)
  • Theo Martin (Island Soul Rum Bar & Soul Shack)
  • Tiana Garrett (Taproot Cafe & Bar)
  • Tilikum Place Café
  • Todd Carden (Elliott Bay Brewing)
  • Tom Douglas and Eric Tanaka (Tom Douglas Restaurants)
  • Tony Lombardi (North Star Diner, Shanghai Room)
  • Trevor Greenwood (Cantinetta)
  • Vivienne Tran (The Moo Bar Seattle)
  • Wassef Haroun (Mamnoon)
  • William Belickis and Michael Hy (Violet)
  • Wylie Bush (Joe Bar, Barjot)
  • Yasuaki Saito (London Plane)
  • Yenvy Pham (Pho Bac Sup Shop)
  • Zachary Pacleb (Brothers & Co)
  • Zak and Renessa Melang (Matador Restaurants, Ballard Annex)