The COVID-19 crisis is devastating for thousands of restaurant-industry workers who have lost their jobs and rely on every paycheck to afford necessities like food, transportation, baby products and medicine.
To help, The Plate Fund is providing immediate financial assistance to those who have been hardest-hit in King County.
The need is enormous, and the money the fund distributes is limited to what we raise in the days and weeks ahead. While our goal is to help as many people as possible, priority is given to applicants most in need, and the order applications are received.
Please donate and apply today!
“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.”
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 suspended operations, closed and let go a majority of their staff. A vast majority of line cooks, wait staff, dishwashers and other employees 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.
The Plate Fund provides immediate, one-time payments of $500 to the most impacted workers. For many, these payments can help “bridge the gap” between the time they received their last paychecks and when they can access federal stimulus payments and/or unemployment insurance benefits, which can take weeks or months. For others, this may be the only money they receive.
Restaurants, bars and cafes are the connective tissue in our communities, nourishing all of us and helping to keep our neighborhoods vibrant. Now they need us. Please, donate what you can—the cost of a cup of coffee, a dinner out, a month of meals—to help us reach more workers. It’s our turn to serve.
Donations are tax deductible, and one hundred percent of all contributions will go directly to workers.
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: