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When the COVID-19 crisis first hit and restaurants across the country were shuttered in the hopes of stemming the spread of the deadly virus, Guy Fieri jumped into action.
The beloved Food Network star is known for his penchant for the food served up in those diners, drive-ins, and dives that were now closed and facing an uncertain future and he knew he had to do something. Almost as soon as restaurants closed their doors to diners, Fieri started raising money to help them stay afloat. At first, he focused on his local favorites, but soon realized that he needed to go bigger. First, he thought just California, but even that wasn't enough. "I can't just do this for California. I go all over the country doing Triple D. I gotta save my brothers and sisters everywhere," Fieri told Travel + Leisure. "So, we get the National Restaurant Association on the phone and I tell them I have an idea."
On March 27, 2020, right when the first lock down orders were issued, Fieri teamed up with the National Restaurant Association to establish the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Their mission? Helping restaurant workers losing their livelihoods or suffering financially due to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. To raise money, he put his star power to work making personal pleas to large companies, including PepsiCo, UberEats, Moët Hennessy USA, and many more.
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Since the Relief Fund started raising money from donors large and small they have collected over $25 million from 15,000 individual donors and 50 companies to help restaurant workers, CBS News reports. They have distributed the funds mostly in the form of $500 grants given to a whopping 43,000 recipients in all 50 states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C. It's estimated that about 60 percent of the grant recipients were women and 50 percent were people of color. "The reason was, there's a lot of folks that, for various reasons, don't have the resources, have the time, have the ability to get that money," Fieri told CBS News.
Now, Fieri is getting back on the road to start filming again. Thanks to his hard work and large-hearted action, many of those restaurants will still be open and ready to greet him.