Hot Bread Kitchen stands firmly in solidarity with members of New York City’s food and restaurant industry, who face unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19. Our participants, along with the rest of the food industry, are grappling with devastating uncertainty in the midst of this crisis. As a result, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting women, immigrants, and people of color in the food industry.
Over the past few days we have been in conversation with the women of our workforce program and small business owners of our incubator. Informed by this dialogue, we are pivoting our program support to provide the most critical relief that women in the food industry, small business owners, families, and communities need in these challenging and uncertain times.
WHAT WE ARE HEARING THIS WEEK
This week we worked to establish open lines of communication, including an alumni hotline and survey for small businesses, to understand and triage the concerns and needs of our program participants. This is what we heard:
- Nearly 30% of our workforce alumni have already lost their jobs or are facing reduced wages.Without their regular paycheck, the women we serve are facing an average loss of $450 in weekly earnings.
- Food business revenue has decreased by as much as 80%. Among caterers, retail businesses, and producers of consumer packaged goods, all business types have experienced a significant decrease in sales.
- Health and safety guidance has required us to adjust our kitchen usage. As a provider of a commercial kitchen for small businesses,we are faced with competing priorities: abiding updated health and safety guidelines and minimizing disruption to small businesses’ access to food production space through this time.
HOW WE ARE RESPONDING & HOW YOU CAN HELP
Like many of you, we are no longer business as usual.
- All of our organizational resources have been redirected to support the relief effort.
- We have indefinitely paused the start of our second workforce training class.
- We have temporarily closed our incubator facility in East Harlem and are assessing adjusting protocols, cleaning, and access. We are committed to evaluating our ability to re-open the facility on a daily basis.
- In the meantime, we are freezing and foregoing all kitchen rental and storage costs for our incubator members and shifting advising services to provide resources and advocacy for small business relief.
We’ve launched our Emergency Relief Fund to provide direct, immediate support. With your help, the Emergency Relief Fund will provide:
1) Financial stipends for our workforce program alumni and grants to small business owners to use for rent/utilities, covering payroll, and essential household needs.
2) Increased wraparound social work support and an emergency hotline for all our program participants as they face increased anxiety, child education challenges, and unforeseen gaps in wages or employment.
Our work will continue to evolve as we respond to our program participants. We remain committed to serving our members and providing updates to our community. Thank you for making Hot Bread Kitchen’s work possible.
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and staying healthy,
Shaolee Sen and the Hot Bread Kitchen Team