At this moment, the Arizona Restaurant Association — or the ARA — was supposed to be prepping for the 13th annual spring Arizona Restaurant Week. Instead, the association is running the ongoing Arizona Takeout Weeks, and recently has launched the AZ Restaurant Strong Relief Fund.
Because of COVID-19, dining rooms across Arizona have been closed for about a month. Takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery options are available, but many eateries and bars have had to drastically reduce their teams, and many have closed altogether. That's left multitudes of industry workers without income.
Through the ARA’s 501(c)(3) organization, officially the Arizona Restaurant Association Education Foundation (ARAEF), a relief fund has been established to help sustain the state’s let-go food and beverage industry workers.
The objective of the fund is to provide applicants, i.e. former food and drink industry employees, a personal grant of up to $500. Waitstaff, bartenders, line cooks, dishwashers, front of house, back of house, and hourly workers from the restaurant industry are all eligible.
Members of the service industry may apply at the AZ Restaurant Strong Relief Fund website for the grant.
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Initial donations have come from the Tucson-based Finley Distributing and Crescent Crown Distributing, one of the largest beverage distributors in the country, with locations only in Arizona and Louisiana. You may remember CCD from its recent partnership with SanTan Brewing Company that reprocessed more than 16,000 gallons of draft beer into 400 gallons of medical-grade hand sanitizer. CCD is donating up to $250,000 of its April 2020 proceeds to the fund.
Supporters of this may donate to further contribute to the pool. Donors, i.e. everyday people, will receive a taxable donation letter upon receipt of their donation, and yes, 100 percent of all donations will go directly to the restaurant industry relief fund.
“Through this initiative, we can help those who have suddenly found themselves without a paycheck breathe a little easier knowing that this immediate aid can help them buy groceries, pay their rent, fill their prescriptions, and take care of their families,” says ARA president and CEO Steve Chucri in a press release.
For further details, see the AZ Restaurant Strong Relief Fund website.