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4 Non-Profits Supporting Hospitality Professionals

Gigpro Line cook seasoning a dish.

The hospitality industry is an essential part of the economy, employing millions of people worldwide. However, it also has a reputation for being extremely high-stress and providing low wages. As hospitality workers face these challenges and more, some food and beverage professionals have created non-profits to address these issues and improve the working conditions of the industry. Here are four organizations making an impact:

Pay It Forward

Developed by restauranteur Michael Shemtov, Pay It Forward came about during the start of COVID-19. As the pandemic raged in Charleston, SC, and food and beverage workers lost their jobs, Pay It Forward was formed to support the hospitality community. By leaning on existing relationships with local farms, donations to Pay It Forward allowed hospitality professionals to purchase low-cost groceries from local farms.

In addition to supporting those working in hospitality, the program also supported the farmers who faced reductions in income due to the restaurant closures. As the restaurant industry in Charleston came back from the pandemic, Pay It Forward expanded its services to support professionals differently. The organization now offers grants for hospitality workers who have found themselves without employment due to emergency circumstances. In just the first 18 months, the organization distributed more than 100 of these grants to local workers.

Ben’s Friends

Founded by two Charleston hospitality icons, Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst, Ben’s Friends was created after the two men lost their friend, Ben Murray, to substance abuse. In an industry that can be surrounded by substances, it is often difficult for hospitality workers to maintain sobriety in that environment. Ben’s Friends was created to normalize sobriety in the industry and create a safe, supportive space that allows professionals to meet and discuss their challenges and successes in sobriety.

Ben’s Friends has spread to major cities around the country and offers weekly in-person meetings for professionals in the area. For those who are not local or may prefer to participate from home, there are daily and weekly meetings online, including gender-specific groups for any who may feel more comfortable in that setting.

Giving Kitchen

Before Giving Kitchen was an organization, it was a group of friends supporting Chef Ryan Hidinger, both emotionally and financially, after his cancer diagnosis. After the overwhelmingly positive response from the community, Giving Kitchen expanded to provide emergency financial assistance and community support to food service workers. The organization has become a life preserver for workers in times of crisis, such as illness, injury, or a death in the family.

Giving Kitchen reviews applications and awards assistance to those who qualify. The organization will pay the cost of rent and utilities directly to the service provider. For non-financial support, Giving Kitchen offers a repository of resources that may help hospitality professionals in times of need.

One80 Place

Originally a community kitchen and shelter, One80 Place is a non-profit located in Charleston, SC that provides housing, food, legal services, medical training, and more to homeless individuals. As an organization founded in a major hospitality city, a program was developed to allow enrollees to obtain culinary skills and employment. Named One80 Place Training, the five-week course was designed to train individuals and obtain job placement for graduates.

After the program is complete, graduates are then placed in an externship with local hospitality businesses. Additionally, One80 Place supports its graduates by assisting with childcare needs and transportation.

These non-profits are making a real difference in the lives of those working in the hospitality industry. The organizations bring awareness to issues that these professionals face and tackle problems such as addiction, mental health issues, financial hardship, and homelessness. By providing emotional support, education, training, and financial assistance, these organizations are empowering hospitality workers and improving their lives.

At Gigpro, we are proud to be a part of this positive change in the restaurant industry. Our platform connects food service professionals with employers, making it easier for people to find jobs and for employers to find the right candidate. Gigpro also pays competitive wages and offers occupational accident insurance for its gig workers.

The hospitality industry is facing many challenges, but there are people everywhere dedicated to making a positive impact and leaving the industry better than they found it. Pay It Forward, Ben’s Friends, Giving Kitchen, and One80 Place are just a few examples of those organizations setting the industry up for a brighter future. At Gigpro, we are proud to support the industry and help workers find employment. Together, we can build a stronger and more sustainable future for the restaurant industry.