Inspired by Andrés and World Central Kitchen, chef Erik Bruner-Yang started The Power of 10 to help mobilize restaurant workers while also helping to alleviate the food-insecure in the DC area. The hope is that, by raising $10,000 per week in donations, the organization can provide 10 full-time jobs to restaurant workers and 1,000 free meals to the community. The program is being piloted in three DC restaurants Cane, ABC Pony, and Maketto -- with the hope to scale it over time.
"Every neighborhood has a restaurant that is an extension of your home," Bruner-Yang said in a statement. "These neighborhood restaurants are independently owned, usually operate with a team of less than 30 staff, and unfortunately lack the resources to face challenges like a rapidly expanding pandemic."
Also providing for the community is local nonprofit Real Foods for Kids, which has partnered with Bayou Bakery owner and chef David Guas to offer plant-based meals for kids and families in Arlington County during the school closure. Donations have kickstarted the program and Guas is seeking additional donors. Meals are available between 10am-noon at the restaurant. Updates are being posted via Facebook. Bayou Bakery is still open for curbside pickup and delivery orders via Uber Eats.
In addition, famed chef Edward Lee is partnering with Knead Hospitality + Design and Maker's Mark to transform Succotash restaurant in Penn Quarter into a relief center for any restaurant worker who has been laid off or experienced a significant reduction in hours. Starting Wednesday, March 18, between 5-8pm, workers can visit the restaurant for a free to-go dinner, fresh produce, and supplies.
As they stay open for takeout and delivery, many restaurants, including RASA, We The Pizza, Good Stuff Eatery, Santa Rosa Taqueria, and Punjab Grill have been offering free meals to people in need. RASA is serving school children, hospital workers, and their staff for free. Kids eat free at Sunnyside Restaurant Group locations during the school closures. Punjab Grill is serving packaged meals on Saturdays at Franklin Square. Though they’ve shut down their operations, Little Sesame is working with nonprofit partner Dreaming Out Loud to drop meals to vulnerable communities.
Adam Greenberg of Coconut Club is still open for weekend takeout and delivery via its website, and during this time he is supporting his staff and other industry workers in the process of applying for unemployment. He’s setting up appointments at Coconut Club to walk people through the process with provided laptops and iPads. He says interested individuals can email him with questions or to set up an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greenberg says he’ll have to take out loans to make it through the coronavirus shutdown, but he’s trying to stay positive. “I got into the hospitality industry because I want to take care of people,” he says.
Similarly, Hook Hall Helps is also assisting workers with logistical processes like applying for unemployment. The group is also planning to offer virtual education in the form of professional development, physical activity, and self-care classes. In addition the group, in partnership with local charter school E.L. Haynes, is providing meals and kits to affected families, as well as support to elderly neighborhoods.
For those who want to help, the program is seeking toiletries donations, doorstep delivery volunteers, and funds. As Valero explains: “The more folks -- especially those who are able to telework -- are able to consider making a dollar donation, that’s going to go the longest way in allowing us to really sustain efforts.”