Across Vancouver, restaurants have had to close their doors in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. With dine-in service at bars and restaurants in B.C. forbidden under orders from public health officials, there have been layoffs and hours cut for workers in the city's food and beverage industry.
Some hospitality industry insiders have come together to create the Vancouver Food and Beverage Community Relief Fund (VFBC Relief Fund), which aims to help those who are in critical need of short-term financial assistance.
The fund is currently seeking donations from anyone who is able to offer financial support.
All money raised will be distributed to food and beverage workers impacted by COVID-19, who require urgent financial relief. Those applying will receive access to relief funds ranging from $25 to $150 to use towards basic necessities, such as groceries, covering a bill, going towards rent, and/or filling prescriptions.
The VFBC Relief Fund is being organized by Abdallah El Chami (known as Dallah) of Vancouver food truck Superbaba, along with Tacofino’s Head of Finance Puneet Kochar, and Tacofino’s Head of People and Engagement Taylor Chobotiuk. Currently, the fund operators are looking to bring more people on board in order to ensure accountability in reviewing applications, its delivery, and operations.
According to WorkBC, the Food Services and Drinking Places industry accounted for 6.5 per cent of British Columbia’s workforce in 2019, which equals 163,282 jobs.
“There are so many incredible people in our industry; so many creative and talented individuals who help shape Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island’s food and beverage scene,” says Dallah. “And now, so many of them are out of work and face a dire situation. Even with Employment Insurance, a large population is living near or under the poverty line, making it difficult to purchase basic essentials. This is our call for help so that we can help them a little bit to get by right now.”