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The city of Los Angeles will offer a one-time $800 stipend to employees who work in food service industries, including restaurants, breweries, and food stands, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced this week.
A food service establishment that’s qualified to receive the stipend is described as “a place where food is provided for individual portion service directly to the consumer and for this purpose, is limited to restaurants, food stands, mobile food units and push carts, and breweries, wineries and bars that serve food on the premises.”
Named the Secure Emergency Relief for Vulnerable Employees (SERVE), the initiative will give 4,000 workers the cash using money from the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. The news came as the number of Californians hospitalized with the coronavirus reached more than 8,000 and 40 more deaths were reported in L.A. County on Dec. 2, which resulted in restrictions on outdoor dining.
Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, called the figures “terrifying.” She said L.A. County is already at its worst point since the pandemic began, and she expects it to get worse.
Garcetti reportedly said that four of every 10 employees in the food service industry have lost their jobs this year. Quoted in the Los Angeles Times, the mayor said: “With outdoor dining suspended at our restaurants, the losses suffered by the industry’s workers and business owners are mounting. I’ve heard the pain in the voices of our service workers and from our restaurant owners.”
In order to qualify, eligible residents must be 18 or older and have 2019 income of $58,450 or less prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Applications open Dec. 7 and the link to apply will be available on the SERVE initiative website. People who can apply include those who work in the front and back of “restaurants, food stands, mobile food units and push carts, and breweries, wineries and bars that serve food on the premises.” It is unclear whether food delivery workers apply for this stipend.
Prospective applicants must have fallen into a deeper economic hardship during the crisis due to a job loss or a reduction in income of at least 50% at a food service establishment as a front or back of house employee.
Only applicants who live in the city of Los Angeles are eligible and the relief will be provided to people picked at random; it is not first come, first serve.
“My message couldn’t be simpler,” Garcetti reportedly said. “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”