ILLINOIS — After a total shutdown for months and then capacity limits for Illinois restaurants, many employees and former employees continue to struggle.
The Illinois Restaurant Association plans to help through the Educational Foundation Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.
The fund was created through donations from businesses, personal donations, corporate partnerships and proceeds from an upcoming dining and virtual event. The IRAEF is also taking donations.
Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said thousands of restaurant employees are still out of work.
“We started the year with over 594,000 people here in the state of Illinois working in the restaurant-food service industry,” Toia said. “It is estimated that 321,000 of them are on unemployment or on furlough.”
The relief fund will give one-time grants to restaurant employees in Illinois, covering basic living expenses like rent, food and utilities, Priority will be given to workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are a caregiver for immediate family members who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Workers who have been out of work for three weeks or more with no unemployment benefits will also be considered.
“This fund is a ray of light during a dark time for our industry,” said Dan Raskin, chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association and owner of Manny’s Deli in Chicago. “Restaurants are the heartbeat of every town and city, and without our team members, the spirit of hospitality will disappear. We encourage anyone who loves their neighborhood restaurant to contribute any amount possible, Every little bit helps.”
For information, visit www.illinoisrestaurants.org.
The Center Square – Kevin Bessler