The ‘Good’ COVID-19 Numbers: Relief Efforts Hit Records and Keep Growing

 In Food, Guide

Many of the numbers related to the coronavirus pandemic cast a dark shadow. But there are bright spots too. Take Give STL Day: Donors raised more than $4.5 million for 977 regional nonprofits on May 7, which represent a 50 percent increase in contributions over a year ago ($3 million raised for 843 organizations). In addition, there were 38,570 individual donations this year, versus 24,100 in 2019, an increase of 60 percent. Organizations such as the St. Louis Area Foodbank and Operation Food Search raised nearly $75,000 and $65,000, respectively (versus $8,170 and $10,647 a year ago).

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to ripple across the region, there are many other ongoing efforts to support essential workers as well as those laid off from their jobs and businesses struggling to stay afloat. Here are some examples.

GiftAMeal is a St. Louis based-mobile app that provides a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo of their order from one of 200 participating restaurants, from Urban Chestnut to Herbie’s to Pastaria. When restaurants closed due to stay-at-home orders, the app pivoted to include photos of take-out, delivery and gift cards. It also helped consumers stay up to date on restaurants’ status (curbside, take-out, delivery, etc.) and waived fees for participating restaurants.

More than 442,000 meals have been donated locally through GiftAMeal’s food bank partner Operation Food Search, with the goal of providing relief to both struggling restaurants and the most at-risk segments of our community.

Gateway Resilience Fund
This fund provides short-term monetary relief to employees and owners of independent bars, restaurants and shops in the St. Louis area affected by closures and other circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. It has distributed more than $1 million to individuals and businesses and continues to accept donations to fulfill the applications it has received.

Two additional funds set up by the St. Louis Community Foundation include the RAC Artist Relief Fund and the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which directs resources toward nonprofits.

The 'Good' COVID-19 Numbers: Relief Efforts Hit Records and Keep Growing

Cast members of “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” perform at The Black Rep. Image courtesy of Phillip Hamer Photography.

Arts United STL
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is spearheading this 15-organization virtual benefit with proceeds going toward the RAC Artist Relief Fund. The goal is to raise 1,000 individual donations for the fund, which has been deluged with applications from artists impacted by the pandemic. Acts from organizations including COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (some live, some pre-recorded) will be livestreamed via OTSL’s website, Facebook Live and YouTube Live on Sunday, May 31, at 7 p.m.

Opera Theatre is underwriting all expenses for the benefit, and local artist (and RAC commissioner) Andrea Purnell is the emcee for what promises to be an inspiring, uplifting and joyous celebration of arts in our community.

Meals for Meds
John Perkins, the chef/owner of Juniper, created this program out of a desire to support fellow restaurateurs and serve local medical professionals. Guests visit the Meals for Meds website to donate funds to restaurant partners or companies like the delivery service Food Pedaler who have signed on to provide meals.

Carryout for a Comunidad
Donations made through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation help the HCC’s member restaurants stay afloat and show solidarity with healthcare workers. Donors’ contributions are used to purchase meals from restaurants like Malinche, Don Emiliano’s Restaurante Mexicano and Havana’s Cuisine, which are then delivered to BJC Healthcare, Affinia Healthcare and other providers, as well as patients’ families.

Adopt a Server
This private Facebook group was started in March by a nurse to help unemployed restaurant workers directly by pairing them with “adopters” who fulfill items the “adoptees” need to help them out of a tough place. Requests are often simple items like baby wipes, trash bags, shampoo and soap.

Featured image of Jazz Academy students performing at Jazz St. Louis, courtesy of Collin Elliott.

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