You can help restaurant workers in fire-ravaged areas


California is no stranger to wildfires. Summer after summer, we see them both in Northern and Southern California, and year after year, Cal Fire reminds us that wildfires are growing in number.

But, some of the fires that have torn through the northern part of the state over the last few days have been particularly deadly, creating – unbelievably – an ever-worsening image of what “devastating” can look like. In Northern California, at least 24 people have died. Hundreds are missing.

In Sonoma and Napa Counties, fire has destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, including wineries and restaurants. Some of those that are still standing remain closed because of a lack of power or damage to their structures. The families who operate these businesses will have to figure out how to rebuild, but right now, their employees can’t work and many are lucky if their homes survived the flames.

Yet, what we also know is that this is what the restaurant community is good at: stepping forward to help their communities and help each other. 

A fast, reliable, effective way to do that – to offer direct help to the restaurant community in a region famous for its food, wine and restaurants – is to support Restaurants Care.

Restaurants Care, a program launched earlier this year by the California Restaurant Association Foundation, is an emergency fund aimed at helping members of our own industry family, restaurant workers who find themselves facing an unforeseen hardship. Already this year, the fund has helped these people: Franklin, a cook whose 15-year-old son was the victim of a shooting; Irene, a restaurant manager who found herself caring for her sister’s newborn baby; and Juan, a dishwasher who fell ill and couldn’t work.

You can hear their stories, in their own words, by watching the videos available on this page.

Week after week, all over the country, restaurants have shown again and again why the term “hospitality industry” means so much. They’ve helped feed thousands upon thousands of hurricane victims and donated supplies and funds to relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

And, it’s not just the industry stars – like Chef José Andrés, who walked away from his restaurants to go to Puerto Rico and feed thousands of people. It’s also the neighborhood restaurants here in communities all around California, who have donated to those efforts and to relief efforts aimed at earthquake victims in Mexico.

And this time, the help is needed right here in California, in our own communities. Please consider a donation – large or small – to Restaurants Care.  And, hopefully, the next time we bring you news, it will be a story of recovery – thanks to your help. 

By Sharokina Shams

CRA VP of Public Affairs