The United States Bartenders’ Guild estimates a daunting 700,000 bartenders are presently unemployed or under-employed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which shows no signs of abating.
The organization immediately recognized the devastation this would bring to an industry where most employees rely on tips. Even with unemployment increases in the recent CARES Act, unemployment is no replacement for tipped income, especially service industry workers living paycheck to paycheck.
The USBG Foundation launched in 2015 to help bartenders in need through efforts like the “Bartender Emergency Assistance Program.” BEAP traditionally provided emergency aid to bartenders suffering a catastrophic incident, such as a car accident or natural disaster. Recent disasters that the fund addressed included the California wildfires, Nashville tornado, and Hurricane Harvey.
Kim Haasaurd, USBG Vice President, says the fund now faces something unprecedented. “What makes this crisis so much worse is that when a catastrophic event does happen and their workplace is damaged, it’s hard, but they can go get another job at the restaurant down the street. But this is not the case now. There is no other restaurant down the street to go apply to.”
As in government and healthcare, the nature of the challenge is daunting and required a fast response. USBG scaled up its existing infrastructure by partnering with leaders in technology, data storage, and secure payment processing so that its own platform would be robust enough for the challenge. In addition, they have trained more than 300 volunteers to screen the applications.
To date, $5 million has been raised thanks to the generosity of a who’s who in the beverage industry. Already, the USBG has received about 240,000 applications, which are being processed as quickly as possible with the help of over 450 qualified volunteers and disbursements are scheduled to start this week. One of the challenges Haasaurd says is the organization is getting a lot of incomplete applications. “I would encourage people to really read through the eligibility requirements and fill out their applications accurately. The more information we have and the more accurate the information, the faster we can process.” Bartenders can APPLY HERE.
In better times, the average grant was $1,800, but with the current surge in demand, payouts will be in the range of $150 to $500. Haasaurd knows this is far from what will be needed. “While it’s not enough to make someone whole, it’s going to give a little cushion—put food on the table, maybe pay a bill, off-set rent, etc.,” she says. “I wish we were able to give everyone the funds they need.”
The United States Bartenders’ Guild was founded in a time full of opportunity just a few years after World War II in 1948. Over the years, the Guild supported an ever-growing family of bartenders through education, community service and, more recently, by focusing on health and well-being. Unfortunately, now all that has changed as the USBG marshals resources to support bartenders in this time of crisis. For corporations, government and non-profits to pitch in—the USBG is continuing to raise funds. You can MAKE A DONATION here.