The COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent shutdown have led to a devastating impact on the economy, particularly for those in the culinary and hospitality sectors. Six months into the pandemic, 100,000 restaurants were forced to close, and nearly 3 million restaurant workers are still out of work due to the shutdown.
As devastating as the pandemic has been, many people have come together to help with aid during the crisis, including Guy Fieri. The Food Network star may be best known for his spiky platinum hair and wacky clothing style, but he’s reminding everyone that he’s a big-hearted citizen as well, raising money for coronavirus relief and feeding first responders.
Since the shutdown took hold, the star of “Guy’s Grocery Games” has raised $21.5 million for out-of-work restaurant employees. On March 24, Fieri helped to create the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation), aimed at helping eligible restaurant employees access $500 grants to help get through these tough times.
The relief fund reports that 80% of the people who received REF funds have a median household income of less than $50,000 a year, and 90% of them will use the money to pay for rent, utilities, childcare and other crucial necessities.
Fieri has helped draw attention to the cause with his national platform, and he’s gotten big names like Uber Eats and PepsiCo to participate in the group’s efforts, leading to $21.5 million in funds to help support restaurant workers.
The 52-year-old father of two is also going to lend his hosting abilities to a new documentary about COVID-19’s impact on the restaurant industry called “Restaurant Hustle 2020: All On The Line.” In the doc, Fieri will speak with chefs about how they’ve survived the shutdown and the many ingenious, thoughtful ways that restaurant owners have responded to the crisis.
“I’ve traveled coast to coast visiting thousands of restaurants across the country on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,’ and after all the time on the road, it’s clear that restaurants are the heart and soul of their communities,” Fieri told the Food Network. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the impact on the restaurant industry was immediate. ‘Restaurant Hustle 2020: All On The Line’ provides a real and intimate first-hand look into the lives of four top restaurateurs navigate through it all.”
The documentary will air on the Food Network channel at Dec. 27 at 9 p.m. ET. To help contribute to restaurant workers struggling during the pandemic, go to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Change is on the Menu, where 100% of donations go directly to supporting the future of restaurant workers.