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caption: A Seattle cafe notes that while the business is still open, it can only allow to-go orders.
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A Seattle cafe notes that while the business is still open, it can only allow to-go orders.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

'We can't let them just fall by the wayside' says former Starbucks chief leading effort to help laid off restaurant workers

More than 100,000 people in King County worked in food and drink industry before the coronavirus outbreak.

Since most have been laid off, the Schultz Family Foundation has started an effort to provide them emergency funding.

“I want people to think about all the people they encountered that made their experience in the restaurant special … those are the people that need help now,” said Chef Renee Erickson who further notes that many restaurant workers live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Erickson says many have been unemployed for three weeks now. And it’s scary.

It could be several weeks before laid off workers see the federal stimulus checks and unemployment benefits from the state. Meanwhile, they are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table.

“We can’t let them just fall by the wayside,” said Howard Schultz, former head of Starbucks.

The Schultz Family Foundation, along with local non-profits and restaurateurs have launched #ThePlateFund. The coalition is providing $4 million in seed money. The fund will provide a one-time $500 cash payment. It’s meant as a bridge before government assistance arrives. Schultz hopes the public will join their effort.

“We’re going to remember this moment in time; what it did to our business and our families and what we did to help one another.”

ThePlateFund is also open to workers who may not qualify for government aid because of their immigration status.

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