By Danielle Nierenberg and Sabrina Endicott
On November 17th, Food Tank is co-hosting a panel with the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center on COVID-19's impact on the restaurant and culinary industry and what is being done to help save restaurants. Panelists will include Camilla Marcus, Founder of Independent Restaurant Coalition and Co-founder of the Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants, Naama Tamir, Co-owner of Lighthouse and Lighthouse Outpost, JJ Johnson, Owner of FIELDTRIP, Tom Colicchio, Founder of Crafted Hospitality, Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, and Salil Metah, Chef and Owner of Laut Singapura Restaurant.
Register here to learn more about how the industry has been impacted, and how chefs, restaurant operators, and entrepreneurs are looking for alternative ways to run their businesses.
When the COVID-19 outbreak began in the United States, 5.9 million restaurant jobs were lost between February and April, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition. And a new survey by the National Restaurant Association finds that 100,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term.
"Moving forward, I think restaurants have to be very critical about how we used to run our businesses," Erik Bruner-Yang, chef and restaurateur, tells Food Tank. "Now is the time for everyone to revisit how to do things differently."
Organizations around the country are discovering innovative sustainable ways to revive the restaurant scene, while also addressing the impacts of COVID-19. Through strong community networks, these organizations have found ways to help unemployed workers, keep restaurants in business, and address food waste and hunger.
Food Tank is highlighting 17 organizations reviving restaurants and the workforce while reimagining what the industry will look like post-pandemic.
1. Big Table, Washington and California
Big Table is a nonprofit that helps restaurants and hospitality workers in times of crisis. Its referral model builds networks of managers, workers, and owners to help them access crisis care in San Diego, CA Spokane, WA, and Seattle, WA. Big Table is also promoting national resources to support restaurants and the workforce.
2. Dining at a Distance, International
Dining at a Distance is an independent grassroots effort that started in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization helps keep people fed and employed by compiling restaurants and farms that are operational during COVID-19. Since it began, Dining at a Distance has spread internationally, representing cities throughout North America, Europe, and Oceania.
3. Frontline Foods, National
Frontline Foods began with a small donation to a local hospital and has transformed into a nationwide response to support frontline workers and restaurants. Frontline Foods is partnering with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit started by Chef José Andrés, to fundraise money for restaurants to make meals for frontline workers. Through its efforts, Frontline Foods has helped support 1,125 restaurants around the country.
4. Giving Kitchen, Georgia
Giving Kitchen provides financial relief to uplift and protect food service workers in Georgia. Along with financial services, the organization provides mental and physical health resources, food, employment, and housing resources. With Giving Kitchen's Stability Network program, a referral model connects food service workers with social services.
5. Heart of Dinner, New York
Heart of Dinner is a volunteer-based food-relief program that started to combat xenophobia and racism towards the Asian-American community during COVID-19. The organization partners with culturally appropriate restaurants to provide Asian-American senior-citizens in New York with fresh meals. Through donations, Heart of Dinner has been able to provide over 32,000 meals and help Asian-American restaurants.
6. Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), National
The Independent Restaurant Coalition, created by and for restaurant and bar owners, works to collectively shape legislation that supports small food businesses affected by COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns. The IRC is advocating for Congress to pass the Restaurants Act, which would create an Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund, boosting the economy and protecting workers. A report by Compass Lexecon finds that the fund can grow the economy by US$271 billion and reduce unemployment by up to 2.4 percent.
7. James Beard Foundation, National
The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit organization that celebrates and honors chefs and other leaders dedicated to making America's food scene sustainable, delicious, and diverse. The Foundation started a campaign called Open For Good, which ran a Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund from March till April. Since September, the Foundation has begun the Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans. These funds serve to help restaurants rebuild better after the crisis.
8. The LEE Initiative, National
The LEE Initiative is helping revive restaurants and mend the food supply chain with its Restaurant Reboot Relief Program. The organization is committing at least US$1million to purchase food from sustainable farms in 16 regions and donate the food directly to restaurants. By investing in farmers, the organization hopes to help farmers and restaurants rebuild together. At the start of the pandemic, The LEE Initiative, in collaboration with chef Edward Lee and Maker's Mark, started The Restaurant Worker's Relief Program, which provided 400,000 pounds of meals and supplies to out-of-work restaurant employees.
9. Off Their Plate, National
Off Their Plate is a grassroots team dedicated to helping frontline workers. The organization offers ways to keep restaurants in business and feed communities by directing funds raised to partnering restaurants to continue staffing and prepping meals during the pandemic. For every US$100 donated, Off Their Plate sends 10 meals to those in need, which also creates a three-hour shift for workers.
10. One Fair Wage, National
One Fair Wage is a nationwide coalition advocating for policy to ensure that all workers are paid a full, fair minimum wage in addition to tips. One Fair Wage's Emergency Fund is raising money to provide cash assistance to restaurant and service workers during the pandemic. The organization also oversees High Road Kitchens, a group of independent restaurants that give free food to low-wage workers while providing restaurant jobs. Launched during COVID-19, High Road Kitchens looks to revive and rebuild a more equitable and sustainable restaurant industry.
11. Power of 10, Washington D.C.
Started by chef and restaurateur, Erik Bruner-Yang, Power of 10 is mobilizing restaurant workers during the crisis to maintain operations and keep staff safe and employed. The program serves as a model for any city, demonstrating that donations of US$10,000 a week can provide 10 full-time jobs and 1,000 free meals to a community. So far, Power of 10 has donated 200,000 meals and provided 2,000 full-time jobs.
12. Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, National
ROC United is a nonprofit organization fighting for improved worker's wages and working conditions. Along with providing resources for restaurants, ROC United has advocated for Congress to pass legislation and for companies to pay employees paid sick leave. ROC United's Pandemic Relief Fund launched in March to help the restaurant employees and since then has raised over US$1 million and has helped more than 5,000 workers and their families.
13. Restaurant Workers Community Foundation (RWCF), National
Created by and for restaurant workers, RWCF advocates for opportunities to strengthen the restaurant workforce. During the pandemic, RWCF is providing relief funds and resources for restaurant workers impacted by the crisis. They use the power of restaurant workers to create a more just restaurant environment.
14. Rethink Food, New York
Rethink creates partnerships with restaurants and food businesses, sources funding to restaurants, and secures meals to those in need. Rethink has invested more than US$2 million in local communities and served more than 1 million meals.
15. Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR), New York
ROAR is a charity organization that is donating to restaurants and employees during the pandemic. ROAR, in collaboration with Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting nonprofit in New York City, is raising funds for an NYC Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Through its Instagram, ROAR shares action items to pass legislation in support of restaurant relief and ways to support restaurant employees.
16. Southern Smoke Foundation, Texas and National
Southern Smoke Foundation is a crisis relief organization that provides funding to individuals in the food and beverage industry. During the pandemic, Southern Smoke Foundation has expanded its operations, creating a Chicago Relief Fund for restaurant workers impacted by the crisis. So far, Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund has raised US$3.6 million for restaurants and workers around the country.
17. World Central Kitchen (WCK), National
WCK is supporting restaurants and consumers through partnerships, donations, and policy advocacy. WCK's program,Restaurants for the People, provides fresh nutritious foods to communities in need and keeps small businesses running. By buying meals directly from restaurants, WCK has worked with over 2,400 restaurants and disbursed more than US$117 million.
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
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By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich
Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.
Mapping Social Vulnerability<p>Figure 1a is a typical map of social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract level based on the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) algorithm of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1540-6237.8402002" target="_blank"><em>Cutter et al.</em></a> . Spatial representation of the index depicts high social vulnerability regionally in the Southwest, upper Great Plains, eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, and southern Appalachia, among other places. With such a map, users can focus attention on select places and identify population characteristics associated with elevated vulnerabilities.</p>
Fig. 1. (a) Social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract scale is mapped here following the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI). Red and pink hues indicate high social vulnerability. (b) This bivariate map depicts social vulnerability (blue hues) and annualized per capita hazard losses (pink hues) for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019.<p>Many current indexes in the United States and abroad are direct or conceptual offshoots of SoVI, which has been widely replicated [e.g., <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-016-0090-9" target="_blank"><em>de Loyola Hummell et al.</em></a>, 2016]. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html" target="_blank">has also developed</a> a commonly used social vulnerability index intended to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, and after disasters.</p><p>The first modeling and mapping efforts, starting around the mid-2000s, largely focused on describing spatial distributions of social vulnerability at varying geographic scales. Over time, research in this area came to emphasize spatial comparisons between social vulnerability and physical hazards [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-009-9376-1" target="_blank"><em>Wood et al.</em></a>, 2010], modeling population dynamics following disasters [<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11111-008-0072-y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Myers et al.</em></a>, 2008], and quantifying the robustness of social vulnerability measures [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0152-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate</em></a>, 2012].</p><p>More recent work is beginning to dissolve barriers between social vulnerability and environmental justice scholarship [<a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304846" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Chakraborty et al.</em></a>, 2019], which has traditionally focused on root causes of exposure to pollution hazards. Another prominent new research direction involves deeper interrogation of social vulnerability drivers in specific hazard contexts and disaster phases (e.g., before, during, after). Such work has revealed that interactions among drivers are important, but existing case studies are ill suited to guiding development of new indicators [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.09.013" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Rufat et al.</em></a>, 2015].</p><p>Advances in geostatistical analyses have enabled researchers to characterize interactions more accurately among social vulnerability and hazard outcomes. Figure 1b depicts social vulnerability and annualized per capita hazard losses for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019, facilitating visualization of the spatial coincidence of pre‑event susceptibilities and hazard impacts. Places ranked high in both dimensions may be priority locations for management interventions. Further, such analysis provides invaluable comparisons between places as well as information summarizing state and regional conditions.</p><p>In Figure 2, we take the analysis of interactions a step further, dividing counties into two categories: those experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019. The differences among individual race, ethnicity, and poverty variables between the two county groups are small. But expressing race together with poverty (poverty attenuated by race) produces quite different results: Counties with high hazard losses have higher percentages of both impoverished Black populations and impoverished white populations than counties with low hazard losses. These county differences are most pronounced for impoverished Black populations.</p>
Fig. 2. Differences in population percentages between counties experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019 for individual and compound social vulnerability indicators (race and poverty).<p>Our current work focuses on social vulnerability to floods using geostatistical modeling and mapping. The research directions are twofold. The first is to develop hazard-specific indicators of social vulnerability to aid in mitigation planning [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04470-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate et al.</em></a>, 2021]. Because natural hazards differ in their innate characteristics (e.g., rate of onset, spatial extent), causal processes (e.g., urbanization, meteorology), and programmatic responses by government, manifestations of social vulnerability vary across hazards.</p><p>The second is to assess the degree to which socially vulnerable populations benefit from the leading disaster recovery programs [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/17477891.2019.1675578" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Emrich et al.</em></a>, 2020], such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) <a href="https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Individual Assistance</a> program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) <a href="https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Disaster Recovery</a> program. Both research directions posit social vulnerability indicators as potential measures of social equity.</p>
Social Vulnerability as a Measure of Equity<p>Given their focus on social marginalization and economic barriers, social vulnerability indicators are attracting growing scientific interest as measures of inequity resulting from disasters. Indeed, social vulnerability and inequity are related concepts. Social vulnerability research explores the differential susceptibilities and capacities of disaster-affected populations, whereas social equity analyses tend to focus on population disparities in the allocation of resources for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Interventions with an equity focus emphasize full and equal resource access for all people with unmet disaster needs.</p><p>Yet newer studies of inequity in disaster programs have documented troubling disparities in income, race, and home ownership among those who <a href="https://eos.org/articles/equity-concerns-raised-in-federal-flood-property-buyouts" target="_blank">participate in flood buyout programs</a>, are <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063477407" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eligible for postdisaster loans</a>, receive short-term recovery assistance [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.102010" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Drakes et al.</em></a>, 2021], and have <a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/25/texas-natural-disasters--mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">access to mental health services</a>. For example, a recent analysis of federal flood buyouts found racial privilege to be infused at multiple program stages and geographic scales, resulting in resources that disproportionately benefit whiter and more urban counties and neighborhoods [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023120905439" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Elliott et al.</em></a>, 2020].</p><p>Investments in disaster risk reduction are largely prioritized on the basis of hazard modeling, historical impacts, and economic risk. Social equity, meanwhile, has been far less integrated into the considerations of public agencies for hazard and disaster management. But this situation may be beginning to shift. Following the adage of "what gets measured gets managed," social equity metrics are increasingly being inserted into disaster management.</p><p>At the national level, FEMA has <a href="https://www.fema.gov/news-release/20200220/fema-releases-affordability-framework-national-flood-insurance-program" target="_blank">developed options</a> to increase the affordability of flood insurance [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2018]. At the subnational scale, Puerto Rico has integrated social vulnerability into its CDBG Mitigation Action Plan, expanding its considerations of risk beyond only economic factors. At the local level, Harris County, Texas, has begun using social vulnerability indicators alongside traditional measures of flood risk to introduce equity into the prioritization of flood mitigation projects [<a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/Portals/62/Resilience/Bond-Program/Prioritization-Framework/final_prioritization-framework-report_20190827.pdf?ver=2019-09-19-092535-743" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Harris County Flood Control District</em></a>, 2019].</p><p>Unfortunately, many existing measures of disaster equity fall short. They may be unidimensional, using single indicators such as income in places where underlying vulnerability processes suggest that a multidimensional measure like racialized poverty (Figure 2) would be more valid. And criteria presumed to be objective and neutral for determining resource allocation, such as economic loss and cost-benefit ratios, prioritize asset value over social equity. For example, following the <a href="http://www.cedar-rapids.org/discover_cedar_rapids/flood_of_2008/2008_flood_facts.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2008 flooding</a> in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cost-benefit criteria supported new flood protections for the city's central business district on the east side of the Cedar River but not for vulnerable populations and workforce housing on the west side.</p><p>Furthermore, many equity measures are aspatial or ahistorical, even though the roots of marginalization may lie in systemic and spatially explicit processes that originated long ago like redlining and urban renewal. More research is thus needed to understand which measures are most suitable for which social equity analyses.</p>
Challenges for Disaster Equity Analysis<p>Across studies that quantify, map, and analyze social vulnerability to natural hazards, modelers have faced recurrent measurement challenges, many of which also apply in measuring disaster equity (Table 1). The first is clearly establishing the purpose of an equity analysis by defining characteristics such as the end user and intended use, the type of hazard, and the disaster stage (i.e., mitigation, response, or recovery). Analyses using generalized indicators like the CDC Social Vulnerability Index may be appropriate for identifying broad areas of concern, whereas more detailed analyses are ideal for high-stakes decisions about budget allocations and project prioritization.</p>
By Jessica Corbett
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.