In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the New Orleans community has rallied to show their support for hospitality workers at the brunt of the fallout. Various funds have been established to help those who have lost their jobs, and everyone from civil leaders to Mardi Gras krewes to the restaurants themselves have stepped up to help. Whether you’re a worker in need of assistance, or you’d like to find a way to give back, here are a wide variety of resources for you to tap in to.
Funds/ Grants for industry workers
The NOLA Virtual Tip Jar represents dozens of artists and service industry workers who are out of work due to the pandemic. Donate to the servers in your favorite restaurants, the painter you’d run across in Jackson Square, the orchestra performer whose show has been cancelled, the tour director who showcases the city like a true local, and many more.
Created to support local bartenders, NOLA Tip Party allows folks to donate to their favorites. In collaboration with the NOLA Virtual Tip Jar, this site is specifically for bartenders.
To support the incredible team that is the heart and soul of Willa Jean, the restaurant launched the Willa Jean Family Fund, which will be distributing 100 percent of the proceeds directly to the employees who are without pay for the foreseeable future. For every donation, the team will be offering a small token of appreciation once the restaurant is back up and running, including their famous chocolate chip cookies, Willa Jean t-shirts, and brunch for two once the restaurant reopens.
More than just a Mardi Gras krewe, the Krewe of Red Beans has spent over $1,000,000 in the community through the #FeedTheFrontLine initiative, which began on Marsh 15, 2020 and wrapped up on May 3, 2020. The initiative called for placing large orders at various restaurants across the city to feed hospital staff, employing out-of-work musicians to help with the effort. Their efforts have now shifted to #FeedTheSecondLine, which partners venerated culture bearers, such as Mardi Gras Indians, musicians, and Social Aid & Pleasure Club members, with their younger counterparts who assist in delivering groceries and other household needs. Donate here to help.
The Greater New Orleans Foundation is launching a new fund to support hospitality industry workers. With the support of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco® brand pepper sauce, and in partnership with the Louisiana Restaurant Association, this program will provide grants of up to $1,000 for service and hospitality workers whose families are experiencing financial crisis in the Greater New Orleans region. You can also donate to GNOF through the Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund, which helps support those who have been affected by the pandemic.
Created to serve hospitality workers during the coronavirus pandemic, Culture Aid NOLA is providing meal kits to culture and hospitality workers in need. See here for how to donate to the cause or receive a meal kit.
For more donation ideas, search GoFundMe to browse specific causes in the New Orleans community.
Creative ways to support industry workers
Dirty Coast has released a line of t-shirts and bags to benefit hospitality workers. 50 percent of all of the sales will go to the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation (LHF) and United Way Southeast Louisiana’s newly-established Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund. While you’re shopping online, check out the new line of shirts with proceeds to benefit the Krewe of Red Beans and Second Harvest Food Bank, including “If You Can Read This You Are Standing Too Close,” “Handshake Alternative,” and "Feed the Front Line" prints.
NOLA Relief has launched a line of t-shirts with sales proceeds going directly to musicians, artists, and those in the service industry. Shop the line here.
Rouses Markets has developed a new program to sell dishes from local restaurants in their grocery stores. Dishes include Turtle Soup from Commander’s Palace and hummus and pita from Saba, available at the downtown Rouses location at 701 Baronne St. Proceeds will go directly to the restaurants. Call ahead or head to your local Rouses’ deli section to see what’s available from local restaurants.
Free Meals for Hospitality Workers
In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer will be providing a free drive-up food pantry for hospitality and gig economy workers affected by COVID-19. The drive-up food pantry will take place Tuesday at Connect Church of Algiers (1110 Kabel Dr.), Thursday and Saturday at Holy Angels (3500 St. Claude Ave.), and Friday at All Saints Catholic Church (1441 Teche St.) and Berean Bible Church (3712 Herschel St.) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Blue Oak BBQ is offering a free bag lunch to hospitality workers every Friday from noon until they run out. They’ll be located at 3300 Gravier St. and encourage service industry workers, musicians, and all who are currently laid off due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 to stop by.
The Restaurant Workers Relief Program is offering free meals and supplies for those in need every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-3 p.m. at Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas St.). Make sure to bring a valid state ID along with a recent pay stub or bank direct deposit confirmation showing proof of New Orleans restaurant employment.
Toups Meatery in Mid-City is offering a Family Meal every day at 3 p.m. free of charge for the needy and especially those in the service industry. Call (504) 252-4999 to secure your box. Past family meals have included red beans and braised oxtails over Louisiana rice, rabbit and lentil stew, and Chef Isaac’s famous chicken and sausage gumbo. Debbie Does Doberge, French Truck Coffee, and Dixie Beer have also donated various food items to the cause.
Cafe Carmo has free meals for anyone who may need it Tuesday through Friday with vegan and gluten-free options available. Lunches should be picked up between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dinners should be picked up between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Secure your order online here. They ask that those who can make a donation will do so on a sliding scale, so that they might continue to offer this service.
For more free meals for service industry workers, see here.