Unless you’ve spent the last 12 days in a millionaire silent meditation retreat, you are no doubt aware that the entire hospitality industry—restaurants, bars, cafes, coffee roasters—are hurting in the midst of a global pandemic. Without swift and decisive action, many businesses are on the verge of collapse. A majority of the workers in the service industry—assuming they are even still gainfully employed right now—rely on tips, which they aren’t making due to precautionary shutdown efforts to keep COVID-19 from spreading.
There have been groundswell efforts sweeping the country to help buoy these displaced individuals in their time of financial crisis. We’ve reported on multiple non-profit groups making citywide efforts to get much-needed capital to workers to help ends meet as well as no less than 80 virtual tip jars set up for cafe-level philanthropy (a separate list is being compiled by Adam JacksonBey at GoFundBean that should also be on your radar).
But these efforts—laudable though they very much are—simply won’t be enough. There are something like 35,000 coffee shops in America alone and there aren’t 35,000 virtual tip jars. Even if there were, expecting the general public to bear that financial burden is simply untenable. Sprudge readers around the world have seen many of their governments spring into action, coordinating with the medical community and offering things like tax deferments, citizen financial aid, rent and mortgage freezes, etc. but here in America we need to advocate from the top down. That’s why we are urging everyone to contact their government representatives and demand aid packages for service industry workers affected by COVID-19 closures.
We don’t care how you reach them: call, email, text, mail, fax, carrier pigeon, telepathy, whatever, just make your voice heard (a list of contact options are available at the link above). Let them know that you appreciate the work that is being done to help small business survive during this time, but their constituents—real, actual people, and not in the “corporations are people, my friend” sense—are also in very real financial risk.
And if you aren’t sure what to say, that’s fine! On his Instagram, James Beard Award winning chef James Stanhope has put out a sample script (brought to our attention graciously by Stumptown’s Dandy Anderson and Oatly’s Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp) for you to copy and “amend at will.” We are reprinting it in full below, with slight updates to widen the scope beyond the restaurant industry:
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [CITY], [ZIP CODE].
Thank you for the leadership you've shown in the face of this pandemic. And to your staff members reading this, thank you for all the work you're putting in right now.
I'm urging you to immediately create a relief program for the service industry and its millions of workers
Nationwide, over 15 million people work in this industry, many without paid sick leave or health insurance. There have been sweeping layoffs and these workers' access to unemployment benefits has been uneven. They need government aid in the form of ongoing universal basic income, and relief from rent and protection from eviction. They will not have an easy time finding work in the service industry any time soon.
Small and medium restaurant and coffee shop businesses need immediate rent abatement, tax deferrals, eviction protection, and money. Please create a relief fund these small and medium businesses can access, with money they do not owe back.
Do not let a bailout happen that only lets giant fast food companies survives. McDonald's has deep pockets. Your favorite neighborhood restaurant and coffee shop does not.
I for one will be reaching out to my own resident congressperson, noted Canadian and avocado hater Lyin' Ted Cruz, which is something I wouldn't wish on anyone but I'll do it for the greater good. If I can make it through an interaction without once calling him a mushface whose face is made entirely of mush, then you can reach out to your duly elected congressperson alongside me.
We stand by our suggestions that you fill the virtual tip jar, donate, buy gift cards, order coffee online, buy merch, and all the rest in your community, assuming of course that you are in a position to do it. But also the moment is moving fast. It's time to contact your representatives.
Top image © Adobe Stock/Daniel Thornberg