Guy Fieri Has Raised Over $20 Million for Unemployed Restaurant Workers

He's already awarded over 40,000 grants.

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

The restaurant and bar industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, with brutal layoffs sweeping out much of the workforce in response to national closures. In an effort to soften some of that blow, famed chef and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives star Guy Fieri has helped raise $21.5 million for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. 

"My entire career has been in the restaurant business. From bussing tables to flambe captain to dishwasher to chef… I've done it all," Fieri said in a press release when the campaign first kicked off. "I've also spent the better part of the last 15 years traveling this great country meeting other folks who've dedicated their lives to this business and let me tell you something, they are the hardest working, most real deal workers you've ever met… the heartbeats of their communities. But they need our help and with Restaurant Relief America, we can serve up some support when these restaurant employees need it most… right now."

In partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Mayor of Flavortown has spearheaded a fundraising effort to provide more than 40,000 one-time $500 grants for those who have either lost jobs or experienced a drop in wages. 

"During these challenging times, the NRAEF’s mission to support the industry’s workforce is more important than ever," NRAEF president Rob Gifford said in a statement, CNN reports. "With Guy as our champion and the support of so many generous companies, we can help get our family of restaurant workers back on their feet." 

According to Variety, Fieri personally reached out to brands such as Pepsi, Coke, and Uber Eats to team up for the cause, telling the outlet, "I started sending personal video invitations to all the heavy-hitter CEOS that are involved in the restaurant business."

In response to a high volume of applicants, the foundation is not currently taking submissions. However, Fieri promises "as long as the money comes in, we're going to continue to give these grants." 

h/t CNN

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.