The world is facing tumultuous times with the COVID-19 pandemic, but the silver lining is the need to serve others is surfacing in the food industry as well as for individuals. Studies by The Graduate School of Stanford Business, which were published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, have shown that taking the opportunity to serve others results in a stronger sense of purpose, which ultimately leads to better mental health and physical well-being. These studies also found that when survey participants are under increased stress, they can find higher meaning in their life and are more likely to seek out ways to serve others.

The opportunities to serve are boundless in this time of need. We’ve seen encouraging stories from restaurants finding ways they and their customers can help their local community, healthcare workers, and fellow restaurants. See what other restaurants are doing to help their customers serve and what organizations you can contact to start giving back during trying times.

How are restaurants giving back?

We’ve seen and celebrated restaurants diving into the opportunity to serve, here’s how restaurants are giving back and partnering with charitable organizations during COVID-19.

The Matador in Seattle: The Matador located in Seattle has been serving the Swedish Medical Center in Ballard with food that would have gone to waste otherwise. They can keep their workers employed and offload what would have become spoiled food due to shutdowns. Owner Zak Meland and his wife told Crosscut that hope to train other restauranteurs in their community on how to pack meals for hospitals so more restaurants can participate in donating meals to healthcare employees.

Andy’s Coffee Roasters: This specialty café set up a portal for customers to purchase coffee and pastries for healthcare workers. As of April 8, 2020, the café said visitors spent at least $20,000 in donation items, which the café works dropped off at San Francisco General Hospital. Customers can buy 20 coffees for healthcare workers for just $55, or choose to buy one cup for $3.50.

Roberta’s Pizza: On March 18, 2020, Roberta’s Pizza shared a video on Instagram that displayed a massive delivery of salads and pizzas for healthcare workers at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. They are working on creating new menu items and packaging guidelines to put together meals for delivery to hospitals much faster. Roberta’s is still open and offering pizza and pasta kits as well as some grocery provisions for pick up while serving healthcare workers.

The London Plane: Yasuaki Saito, a partner at London Plane in Seattle, expressed their overwhelming stress of replacing sales when dining halls were ordered to close and needed to think of a way to keep their staff working and use their current inventory. They’re now making 1600 meals per day for Montlake and Northgate locations of UW Hospitals. After sharing their story, The London Plane received donations for delivery truck usage from their local community.

Sauce Pizzeria: Sauce Pizzeria in New York has made a big buzz around their “Cheese Pie for Hospital Donation” option on their online ordering platform. They’ve seen a minimum of 20 pies donated each day, and they are matching these numbers with their own donations.

Organizations Bridging the Gap for Restaurants to Serve Those in Need

These organizations are helping feed healthcare workers, redistribute donations, and support food service workers. Consider partnering with a charitable organization, and let your customers fill their need to serve others through charitable donations made with your restaurant.

Hospital Hero: Formerly the Feed a Doc Project, Hospital Hero is connecting restaurants with healthcare workers in need of meals. As a restaurant, you can log in, see who needs help in your area with meals, and volunteer assistance directly through their portal. Make sure you let your customers know if you’re participating and let them help you provide more meals through this portal. There are also requests for lodging and medical supplies listed on the site for healthcare workers.

City Harvest: City Harvest, based in New York City, is a food rescue organization. With events canceled and dining halls closed, they’ve seen an influx of donations about five times their typical donation amounts. Food donated to City Harvest is distributed to soup kitchens, food pantries, and families in need. Restaurants in New York can contact City Harvest if they have food donations that need picking up.

Big Table: Big Table works with food service workers in a crisis such as poverty, addiction, or legal troubles, all of which can be amplified by COVID-19. Their mission to serve restaurants and other food service workers have never been more crucial to the well-being of the foodservice industry than during the current pandemic. Big Table operates Spokane, Washington, and San Diego, California. You can send a referral for food service workers you know who are in a crisis if you are their manager or a fellow employee, or submit a personal request. Your restaurant can get involved by making a donation to Big Table online.

Frontline Foods: On the frontlines fighting off the threat of COVID-19 are healthcare workers that are working extended hours, unable to leave facilities for meal breaks. On the flip side of that are local restaurants that are struggling financially. Frontline Foods has connected donations to restaurants with deliveries to frontline healthcare workers. As of April 4, 2020, Frontline Foods is operating in 34 cities, has raised $1.1 Million, and delivered 20,000 meals. If they aren’t available in your city yet, you can contact them here to bring Frontline Foods to your city.

Second Servings of Houston: In Houston, Texas, Second Servings of Houston is the food rescue organization. Second Servings picks up unsold food from caterers, hotels, and stores and then donates these pickups to over 90 different charities. In the two weeks after COVID-19 became classified as a pandemic, they rescued and donated almost 100,000 pounds of food that would’ve otherwise gone to waste.