This Restaurant Employee Relief Fund Is Trying To Raise $30K For Service Industry Employees In Need

Social distancing in practice at D.K. Diner in Grandview Heights.

The service industry has taken a massive hit due to COVID-19.

In April, the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was created by the Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation in order to help employees in the foodservice industry who’ve been affected by COVID-19.  The ORA has set a goal to raise $30,000 in 30 days to support struggling employees.

“The most recent ORA data confirms the COVID-19 economic impact on Ohio’s restaurants continues to be severe, with 54% of owners/operators reporting that they will be forced to close in the next nine months if they remain at their current capacity,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the ORA. “With sales continuously down month-after-month across the industry in most sectors, employees need assistance now more than ever. We must all work together to support those who have served us for years and help make Ohio’s restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry vibrant again.”

From now through mid-September, the Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation and ORA are calling on Ohioans across the state to help reach a fundraising goal of an additional $30,000 to help hundreds of their neighbors in need.

Ways You Can Help

The organizations are teaming up with culinary nutrition expert, chef, integrative health coach and healthy eating blogger, Monique Costello, and professional mixologist and founder of Bubbles and Agave, Christina Basham, for a virtual cooking lesson where participants will learn how to make a tasty dish and a cocktail to go with it. Costello and Basham will donate 100 percent of ticket proceeds and tips from the event to support the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.

“Food creates and deepens connections with family and friends,” said Costello. “Our food community needs our support. I’m honored and humbled to work together with the Ohio Restaurant Association to help provide relief for the nearly 600,000 Ohio employees affected. Let’s reconnect and strengthen the restaurant community together.”

You can learn a little more about the recipe creators on their websites, and, and register to participate in the event at

Additional opportunities to support the Employee Relief Fund include the following:

  • Order Perseverance beer. ORA collaborated with eight breweries in central Ohio to launch “Perseverance,” a new brew that is unique in flavor and profile at each participating location, with a portion of the proceeds directly benefitting the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Find the list of participating breweries here. Visit their individual websites for carryout and delivery options that may be available at each location.
  • Donate directly online. Direct donations to the fund can be given at All donations are tax-deductible and 100% of the funds will go directly to support displaced workers who are struggling with meeting their daily financial needs. 

How the Employee Relief Fund Works

Any Ohio employees in the restaurant, foodservice, or hospitality industry that have been impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for a grant from the Employee Relief Fund. The funding is for housing expenses (e.g. mortgage or rent), living expenses (e.g. transportation and groceries), and medical expenses.

If you’re interested in applying, you just need to show you previous or current employment and fill out the application online to be considered. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and aid will be made as a single disbursement.

If donors or applicants have any questions, they can contact [email protected]

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