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Service! Moves to New Phase with Hospitality Worker Grants

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Service! Moves to New Phase with Hospitality Worker GrantsPhotos via Sangeeta Lakhani
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Service! — an initiative created at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide relief to hospitality workers with free meals — managed to deliver and serve 10,000 meals in its first eight weeks.

Now that some hospitality workers are back to work, the need for food has declined. But that doesn’t mean people in this industry no longer need assistance. Soon, hospitality worker grants will be available through Service!.

“We decided that we would survey the people participating to see what some of their other needs were,” said Letha Pugh of Bake Me Happy and one of several restaurant industry veterans involved in the original mission. “And through the results of the survey, we realized that people were needing assistance with rent, transportation, health care. And some of that had to do with not having access to the income that they had previously to the shutdown.”

The Service! folks took a break to recoup and came back with an idea — allocate the generous funds received from the community in the initiative’s first phase to provide “mini-grants” to hospitality workers in its next phase.

Service! will contribute $50,000 to hospitality workers and is shooting for 25 $250 grants a week, distributed over the next eight weeks. The grants will go to individuals, one time per person, to fulfill whatever needs applicants have.

Once the fund goes live, applicants will simply have to fill out an application and provide some type of identification to receive a check.

Grant applications will open on Saturday, August 1.

Once funds dry up, Pugh says Service! will then move into its next phase. She imagines another reassessment of the needs of hospitality workers, which could include long-term assistance such as skill building.

“The restaurant industry isn’t dead. Everyone’s gotta eat, and at some point things will bounce back,” she said. “Maybe they start out as a dishwasher and now there’s some other skills they may want to take on. We almost see it as the next phase may possibly be some type of training program.”

But for now, Service! is focused on what relief can be provided immediately.

“We’re just trying to make the rounds and get the word out and help as many people as we can,” she said. “I know it’s not a huge amount, but, you know, everything helps.”

For more information on applying for hospitality worker grants, visit servicerelief.org.

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