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  • Writer's pictureSandenVendo America

Supporting the Foodservice Industry through COVID-19

The foodservice industry has been hard-hit by COVID-19. Food, and in turn, foodservice, is a community experience – the likes of which have been brought to a standstill due to necessary social distancing measures worldwide.

Some restaurants can operate on a limited basis through contactless delivery and takeout but are likely to be still feeling the pinch of limited business. With the closure of restaurant dining rooms worldwide, professional waitstaff are impacted by slashed hours and loss of tips. The same is true for many school foodservice workers and catering industry employees. This effect reverberates through other industries and the economy as a whole. The James Beard Foundation reports that in the United States alone, independent food and beverage businesses employ 16% of the national workforce and make up 4% of the gross domestic profit.

While business restrictions and recommendations may seem to change daily as we learn more about COVID-19, it is heartening to see the foodservice community continuing to come together and support each other.

Information for Foodservice Businesses

• The National Restaurant Association has put together an explainer of how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provisions can help foodservice establishments with paycheck protection loans. This funding is retroactive to February 15, 2020, so businesses may be able to reactivate payroll for their previously laid-off employees and continue to provide pay during COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions. The guide also covers other loans, grants, and tax relief options that may be available to help foodservice businesses.

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a COVID-19 food safety FAQ page that provides answers for business owners and their customers. It provides reassurance that there is no evidence that the coronavirus spreads through food or food packaging. The FDA FAQs also provide guidance for special situations including buffet operations, employees testing positive for COVID-19, and supply chain safety.

ServSafe’s coronavirus cheat sheet, available in English and Spanish, provides an at-a-glance summary of current best practices and is perfectly sized to post in your establishment or hand out to employees. The guide includes tips on how to react if a customer exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. Download the guide here.

• The National Association of County and City Health Officials has an interactive tool to help businesses locate contact information for local health authorities.

Financial Help for Foodservice Professionals

Several nonprofit organizations are forming funds to help foodservice employees and business owners whose financial stability has been affected by COVID-19.

• The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to address quality-of-life issues for restaurant employees, has created a fund intended to provide direct relief to restaurant employees, zero-interest loans to restaurant owners, and support for other nonprofits helping the foodservice industry.

• The Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program is accepting applications for financial assistance. The program is designed for restaurant employees and owners who are experiencing “unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance.”

• The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund will be providing micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses affected by COVID-19. Companies may submit their information to receive a notification when applications are open.

More information on available financial assistance is available from the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and Eater.

Continuing to Serve

Wherever you fall in the chain of businesses that operate as or supply foodservice establishments, this is a trying time. As a supplier to countless essential foodservice businesses, SandenVendo America remains open and ready to support our customers through COVID-19. The health and safety of both our employees and clients is our utmost priority. We are closely following the CDC’s guidelines for businesses, and continue to stay abreast of health experts’ advice.

For more information on how SandenVendo is committed to remaining an operational partner during COVID-19, please read a personal message from Mike Weisser, SandenVendo America’s President and CEO, or contact us today.

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