The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) has announced two substantial donations to its TX Restaurant Relief Fund that provides immediate financial support to Texas’ independent restauranteurs and their employees.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) contributed a $1,000,000 grant that will be used to feed first responders such as police officers and firefighters as well as hospital workers. The Spoetzl Brewery, best known for producing Shiner Bock, donated $500,000 that will be used towards grants provided to independent restaurants across the state.
The BCBS donation will be split between two purposes. First responders and hospital workers will be able to receive a free combo meal or bowl from either Chipotle or Whataburger. In addition, the TRA will use the funds to allow hospitals to request packaged meals from independent restaurants for their workers who are treating COVID-19 patients.
Overall, the program will supply 150,000 meals statewide through over 100 independently owned restaurants, 670 Whataburger locations, and 220 Chipotle stores. That keeps restaurants open and employees working at a time when up to 32 percent of restaurants statewide have temporarily closed, according to statistics compiled by the TRA.
“Through these grants, we are working to move resources to community-based organizations that are directly supporting local residents and families who are most impacted by the emerging health, economic, and social impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic,” BCBSTX president Dr. Dan McCoy said in a statement. “We applaud the TX Restaurant Relief Fund and its effort to support independent restauranteurs and their employees.”
The Spoetzl Brewery donation helps the TRA reach its overall goal of raising $10 million for its relief fund that provides grants up to $5,000 for independently-owned restaurants across the state. TRA estimates that the Texas restaurant industry has lost more than 208,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in sales since March 1.
“As of today, our brewery is fortunate to continue brewing with enhanced health and safety measures,” Shiner brewmaster Jimmy Mauric said. “But we are saddened to know that restaurants and bars throughout Texas — that are independent like us — are in distress. We hope that our collective fundraising efforts will help them respond to the challenges that they’re facing.”
Restaurants must supply various documentation to demonstrate their eligibility, including information about their staffs and agreeing to comply with certain reporting requirements to verify funds have been used appropriately. Grants are provided on a first-come-first-serve basis to eligible applicants. To date, the number of restaurants seeking a donation from the fund has been so substantial that TRA has temporarily suspended accepting new applications.
“This is an unprecedented time for our industry, fighting a never-before-seen battle for survival,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, President & CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association and Education Foundation, in a release. “In times of crisis, restaurants are always on the front lines, feeding victims and first responders; in this crisis, restaurants are among the victims. Together with amazing partners like Spoetzl Brewery, we can support restaurants and their employees, the heart of our communities, stay in operation and weather this storm.”