Chef Advocacy Tools and Information


James Beard Foundation Resources

  • Find their list of webinars this week here.
  • Miss last Thursday webinar on TikTok for chefs? Access it here.
  • View their list of resources, including national and local relief services and guides, here.
  • If you haven’t already done so, please complete this industry survey

As the restaurant industry continues to explore ways to survive COVID-19, James Beard Foundation wanted to share things they’re seeing across the country on food delivery services and hospitality support staff.

Commission Caps
With many restaurants across the country relying on food delivery and pick up for revenue, there’s been an uptick in the use of food delivery apps like Postmates and Uber Eats. Mayor London Breed of San Francisco announced that there will be a temporary cap on the commission these companies can charge in the San Francisco–area. While many of these apps have waived delivery fees for diners, they continue to charge restaurants a commission, which often ranges from 10–30 percent. The new cap will limit the commission to 15 percent. Read more here, and more on the issue in Baltimore here.

Virtual Tipping

While many bars and restaurants are launching GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for their bar and restaurants staffs, we’re also seeing the rise in popularity of virtual tip jars across the country. Some of these virtual tip jars start as a shareable document listing a city’s bars and restaurants, staff names, and Venmo accounts or other digital payment information. Others, like Tip Your Server in Salt Lake City and The Plate Fund in Seattle, are set up to accept larger donations to distribute to hospitality workers in need.

Moves to Support Local Farmers
While many customers are still choosing to buy their groceries from supermarket, more and more home cooks are directly supporting their local farms by purchasing shares through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Some farms are expanding beyond CSA memberships to offer one-time purchases of grocery boxes, which can be ordered online and shipped locally and nationally. This added income helps farms fill a financial hole left from revenue lost from farmers’ market closures, as well as reduced purchasing from restaurants. Read more here.

Our friends at Food Tank provide a more complete breakdown of the way COVID-19 is impacting small farmers, and what you can do to help: sign up for a CSA, order direct online, and visit your farmers’ market. Some farmers’ markets are changing the way they do business by offering online ordering and drive-through pick-ups, or allowing customers to pay the market for produce digitally.

Find out how farmers’ markets are innovating from Virginia to Idaho to Texas. 4/15/20


The James Beard Foundation will continue to update you on the restaurant-specific provisions in the economic stimulus package, but they also wanted to share with you more information on the components that impact our friends and allies across the food system.

This is the second in a series of surveys about the impact of COVID-19 on independent restaurants. The James Beard Foundation is intent on gathering data on an ongoing basis throughout this crisis to support individuals and organizations raising funds to sustain the industry. Please complete the short survey here.

National, Regional, and State Resources
We’ve been gathering resources from across the country, from petitions to job lists to FAQs on complex topics. Click here for more. Know of something that we’re missing? Tell us about it here.

Get Social
With more and more restaurants closed, chefs are taking to social media to share tips, recipes, and stories. Civil Eats explores the trend here. You can view the JBF webinar “Leveraging Social Media During COVID-19” here, and JBF’s “6 Tips for Putting the Social in Social Distancing” here.

Small Business Relief
What’s Included: $350 billion “Paycheck Protection Program”, forgivable loans for small businesses that keep employees on payroll, emergency grants of up to $100,000, and employee retention tax credits.

Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is developing their plan for next steps, but has provided this valuable review of the points for small businesses, as well as a guide to the new Paycheck Protection Program and the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Read more here.

Food Stamps and Childhood Nutrition
Included in the Bill: $25 billion for food assistance, including $16 billion for SNAP and nearly $9 billion for childhood nutrition.

Food Research Action Center (FRAC) Response: SNAP has an effective and valuable economic impact in times of need. More action is needed in regards to SNAP, and additional benefits should be included in future stimulus packages. The current bill included funds to expand SNAP to cover the projected increase in applications and relief, but it did not include the desired funds to boost the maximum SNAP benefit by 15% and increase the minimum monthly benefit to $30. Both of these measures help to ensure the most vulnerable in communities are supported. Read the full response here.

Farmers and Ranchers
Included in the Bill: $24 billion, including $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation and $9.5 billion in emergency aid for the agriculture sector, including ranchers and specialty crop (read: fruit and vegetable) growers.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Response: NSAC applauds the Senate signing the bill, but continues to express concern for the loss of direct markets—farmers markets, schools, and restaurants—for many farmers growing specialty crops. This economic stress is particularly challenging for beginning farmers, small and mid-sized farms, and farmers of color. As this bill is largely lacking guidelines or guardrails for distribution, NSAC seeks to ensure that the most-impacted farmers receive direct payments, and these farmers are prioritized for additional administrative flexibility and investment, such as emergency food purchasing from food hubs and small processors, providing farmers with much-needed income and resources. Read the full response here.

Farm and Food Workers
Included in the Bill: Not enough.

HEAL Food Alliance Response: It’s important to ensure that the workers who have been classified as essential, including those who work all along the food chain, are included in these bills. The organizations that HEAL works with are seeking access to important safety information and equipment for these workers and ensuring that what information is provided is language-appropriate. HEAL would also like to see hazard pay for these workers and would like to see that companies that are receiving financial assistance with this bill guarantee safety equipment and procedures—including things such as clean water and soap to wash hands—as well as sick days to employees.

The James Beard Foundation is intent on gathering data on an ongoing basis throughout this crisis to support individuals and organizations raising funds to sustain the industry, and we have put together a second short survey that should take you no more than 15 minutes to complete. Leveraging the responses from these brief surveys, we also aim to provide valuable information to legislators drafting the emergency and longer-term legislation that would help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus response.

We recognize that time and brain space are some of your most precious resources at the moment, and appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your day to complete the survey here. Please do so before end of day Thursday, April 9, when the survey will close.

Now, we’d like to end today on another positive note, and highlight some ways that our community continues to step up to support one another.

By Restaurant Workers, For Restaurant Workers
Partnering with foodservice distributor US Foods, Chicago chef Rick Bayless is working to pay newly unemployed restaurant workers to pack and distribute groceries for those across the city in need, including restaurant employees who were unable to find new jobs. Sourcing the food through their regular restaurant distributor, US Foods, the team packs hundreds of boxes twice a week, providing thousands of meals, and are looking to expand the program. Read more here.

Colorado Restaurant Response, in partnership with Bondadosa and Denver Metro Emergency Food Network, is providing thousands of ready-to-eat meals to food insecure Coloradans each day. Led by chefs Jen Jasinski and Alex Seidel, with Matt McKissock and Blake Edmunds, the program has re-hired newly unemployed Denver-area restaurant workers to produce and distribute these meals. Read more here.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is working with Seattle-area nonprofits and chefs including Edouardo Jordan, Tom Douglas, Renee Erickson, and Ethan Stowell to deliver $500 one-time payments to restaurant workers in Kings County who are now either unemployed or have reduced hours. The Plate Fund was designed to get cash into the hands of those who need it quickly, as unemployment relief can take time to file and process. Read more here.

The IRC is delivering a letter to Congress laying out what independent restaurants—and the 11 million people they employ—need out of the next round of legislation in order to survive this crisis. More than 3,000 chefs and owners have already signed this petition. Please consider adding your name here, and spread the word on social media, too! The letter will be delivered later this week. updated 4/8/20


More questions about policy and the CARES Act?
Follow the Independent Restaurant Coalition on @IndpRestaurants’s Instagram Story for a live Q&A on CARES and other policies. You can always view a recording of our CARES and EIDL webinar with Arnold and Porter here. 4/10/20

The CARES Act passed. Now what do I do?
Have questions about what the new SBA and EIDL programs are, if you’re eligible, and how they’ll impact your business? Some useful answers based on early readings of the bill are here.

Confused about what you’ll need to apply for SBA loans or be part of the Paycheck Protection Program? This helpful one-pager will give you an overview of the information you’ll need to be ready for these applications and conversations, courtesy Kevin Boehm and Michael Shemtov at IRC.

The CARES Act is a $2 Trillion Stimulus Package
$2 trillion is a lot of money, and many of us may have a hard time wrapping our heads around that amount. Written out, we have $2,000,000,000,000. That’s two million, million. A great example of how to think of a million versus a trillion comes from NPR when trying to understand the $3.1 trillion 2009 federal budget: if you counted it out in seconds, one million seconds would be about eleven and a half days, while one trillion seconds would take us 32,000 years.

How is that $2 Trillion broken down?
Right now it looks like: an estimated $560 billion will go to individuals (those individual cash payments and unemployment benefits), $500 billion will go to large corporations, $377 billion will go to small businesses, $339.8 billion will go to state and local governments, $153.5 billion for public health, an estimated $43.7 billion for education, and a $26 billion safety net.

What These Big Numbers Mean for You
As an individual and/or business owner, the numbers that will have most impact on you is the $560 billion to individuals and $377 billion for small businesses.

The fund for individuals includes cash payments, unemployment, and insurance coverage for COVID-19 treatments.

The $377 billion includes $10 billion for the EIDL Loans, $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, and $17 billion for relief for already existing SBA loans. Please note that this is a finite amount of money—we cannot advise you if you should apply for these grants or loans for your business (an attorney, loan officer, or business manager should do that)—so if you are interested in potentially applying for these loans or grants you may want to start the conversation with an SBA-affiliated bank and/or other advisor now.

A full breakdown of the $2 trillion can be found here.

CARES Act and Loan FAQs

The information below is based on materials from the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. We strongly encourage you to speak with your business manager, loan officer, and/or attorney for detailed advice and guidance on these loans and grants.

I’m struggling to pay my restaurant rent. Is there anything in the CARES Act about a rent freeze?
No, a rent freeze is not included in the bill. Any sort of rent freeze or rent relief will likely come through your state governor’s office. Read this for advice on how to talk to your landlord about rent and COVID-19.

Am I eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?
In general, you can apply if you are a small business that employs less than 500 people per location. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and the self-employed are also eligible for the program.

How much can I borrow?
Small businesses are eligible to borrow up to 250% (or 2.5x) their average monthly payroll expenses, up to $10 million.

Will this loan be forgiven?
Maybe. The goal of the loan is to keep employees on payroll. If you are able to keep employees on payroll through the end of the loan period, the loan will be forgiven. In order to incentivize rehiring staff, you might not be penalized if you’ve already had to take action to reduce your staff. We’re seeking clarity on this and: if you need to keep the same employees or the same number of employees, salary requirements, and other points. More information is available here.

What is the period for this loan?
February 15—June 30.

Wait—what if I’m not able to reopen by June 30?
With the Independent Restaurant Coalition, we are seeking clarification and a technical correction on this point to see if the deadline can be pushed back to the end of July or August.

Are undocumented workers eligible for loan and grants or unemployment benefits under CARES?
No, undocumented workers are not eligible to receive these benefits at this time. Please see this list of resources for the immigrant and undocumented communities from the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation.

Where can I find more information on PPP?
You’ll find a more information on PPP here.

SNAP Information

Expanding SNAP Benefits
The latest bill expanded funding for SNAP (though it did not increase SNAP benefits) in order to meet the growing number of people in need of nutrition assistance across the country. SNAP eligibility, information, and applications are handled at the state level. Follow this link and click on your state to learn more about SNAP in your state and ways to apply.

Unemployment Insurance
Wondering if you qualify for unemployment insurance underneath the new legislation? In general, new federal law allows states to pay benefits where your employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; you are quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; or you leave employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.

Unemployment is filed on a state-by-state basis, but here is a good place to get more information and a link to find your state’s Department of Labor page.

As mentioned previously, our friends at the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) have noted that the latest emergency package includes necessary expansions to the SNAP program, but does not increase the amount a single person or family can receive in benefits. In another update, a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the Trump administration from implementing a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off SNAP. For more information on nation-wide nutrition assistance programs, and the response to COVID-19, visit the USDA’s Food Nutrition Services disaster assistance site.

Helping the Community

Family Meals for Four
By chefs Patrick Mulvaney and Brad Cecchi, California’s “Family Meals for four” uses small and independent restaurants as micro-commissaries to “create meals for the hungry, get cooks back in the kitchen, and support local farmers and purveyors we rely on.” Each week, these kitchens serve thousands of meals to people in need. Read more here.

Off Their Plate
Chefs Tracy Chang and Ken Oringer are leading the charge with chefs in the Boston area preparing meals specifically for healthcare workers. Donations are used to restore wages to restaurant workers, and the meals they prepare are then donated to those working on the front lines in the healthcare system. Along with fellow local chefs and their teams, they’ve delivered hundreds of meals to large medical institutions around Boston. Off Their Plate have now expanded to the New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh areas. Read more about Off Their Plate here.

The Lee Initiative
Founded by chef Edward Lee with managing director Lindsey Ofcacek, the Lee Initiative is working with restaurants around the country to give out toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers, and meals to laid-off restaurant workers in cities across the country with their Restaurant Workers Relief Program. The work—currently in more than a dozen cities including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New Orleans—is made possible with food donations and the support of companies such as Makers Mark. Read more here.

#ChefsForAmerica/World Central Kitchen
Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) has been feeding those at the front line of disasters for years, coming to wider national attention in 2017 as part of the response to Hurricane Maria. Now, with #ChefsForAmerica, WCK is serving nearly 100,000 meals across the country every day by safely distributing restaurant-prepared, packaged meals to those in need, including children, the elderly, and healthcare workers. Read more here about WCK’s work during the pandemic here and more on #ChefsForAmerica here. updated 4/8/20

302,446,798 Missed Meals
According to No Kid Hungry, kids in need have missed over 300 million meals due to school closures. Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry is providing information on emergency grants, resources, and other ways to support children in need.

Feeding Those in Need
With high unemployment and students out of school, food banks across the country are responding to the increased need. Communities that were vulnerable prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic are now especially at risk. To learn more about the response in your community, whether you need assistance or would like to help, visit Feeding America and follow this link to find your local food bank.

Supporting Restaurant Workers
The Lee Initiative, founded by chef Edward Lee with managing director Lindsey Ofcacek, is working with restaurants around the country to give out toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers, and meals to laid-off restaurant workers in each city with their Restaurant Workers Relief Program. The work—currently in more than a dozen cities including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New Orleans—is made possible with food donations and the support of companies such as Makers Mark.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email