project leader
Elina M
5006 Penn Ave
(Greater Pittsburgh region)
latest update rss
Thank you!

the project

Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid provides resources and community support to low-wage restaurant and hospitality workers who have lost financial, housing, food, and healthcare security. Built as a coalition of service industry workers in response to the economic distress caused by COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, our goal is to create a mutual aid network that can address immediate needs, through this crisis and beyond, by distributing food, baby necessities, pet care items, cleaning and hygiene products, and small emergency cash grants.

Our Food Distribution Center acts as a hub to collect donations from community members and partner organizations, assemble care packages, serve meals, allow neighbors to pick up groceries, and send out volunteer drivers with deliveries.

Funds will pay for necessary cleaning and sanitation supplies to maintain a safe facility, packaging for safe food transportation, necessary requests that can not be filled by in kind donations (such as food for children with dietary restrictions), marketing to let our community know about our programs, fuel for volunteer drivers, facilities rental, and health department permits. These resources will aid low-wage neighbors to maintain food security for themselves and their families during times of need.

the steps

In response to the closure of dine-in facilities in Allegheny County on May 15th, we partnered with the Irma Freeman Center in Garfield to set up the Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid Food Distribution Center. Since then, we have delivered close to 200 care packages to the front doors of low-wage restaurant workers in the region, from our next door neighbors to folks in neighboring counties.

On an average day we deliver 8 to 12 care packages to individuals and families who can not leave their homes, and help up to 30 families access free groceries, baby necessities, pet essentials, prepared meals, and other necessities. 

With an increased level of funding, we will be able expand our efforts and respond to more people in need during this crisis, as well as create a sustainable program to continue aid to the community as we recover. While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought food security to the forefront of our minds, accessing enough healthy food has been an issue among low-wage restaurant workers since before this virus, and will continue to affect many even after our industry returns to business as usual.

why we're doing it

This current COVID-19 pandemic has shown the hospitality industry’s weakness and it’s strengths. Food security, housing stability, access to health care and paid leave, and many safety nets that support workers during crisis were lacking before this virus brought our livelihoods to a halt, and will likely continue to be out of reach for many long after our restaurants reopen. Yet our industry is built on caring for others, and we have rallied to support one another even as our collective resources are strained. Through reaching out to our greater community for support, the folks who eat at our tables and celebrate at our bars, the communities around us that benefit from the vibrant culture created in our dining rooms and on our stages, we will be able to better recover from these hard times and welcome our guests back with open arms.


Updated Budget 4/16/20:

Sanitization and cleaning supplies - $600

Pint & quart containers, bags, etc. for packaging food - $200

Rental Space (Irma Freeman Center) - $600

Food & Household Supplies (to purchase items for care packages) - $6000

Marketing - Banner - $500

Marketing - Flyers - $500

Volunteer Gas Incentive - $3000

Rental Space (next 6 months) -  $3500

Equipment Rental - $2000

ACHD Temporary or Seasonal Permit - $100

PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $17,000 $17,000
ioby Platform Fee Waived 35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $526 $527
TOTAL TO RAISE = $17,526 $17,562

Original Budget:
Sanitization and cleaning supplies - $300

Pint & quart containers, bags, etc. for packaging food - $100

Rental Space - $300

Food & Household Supplies (to purchase items for care packages) - $2000

Marketing - Banner - $250

Marketing - Flyers - $250

Volunteer Gas Incentive - $700

ACHD Temporary or Seasonal Permit - $100

TOTAL - $4000

ioby Platform Fee Waived 35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $124 $125
TOTAL TO RAISE = $4,124 $4,160


Thank you!

We want to extend a huge round of applause to all of our generous donors!

This campaign has been a huge success, raising more than triple our initial goal! Thanks to this fund, we will be able to continue our efforts to assist our community with food, baby supplies, pet food, and household goods while this pandemic continues to affect our livelyhoods. We are currently distributing over 75 care packages and 200 meals a week to folks in need, and are now able to expand our programs to serve 200+ households a week with groceries and necessities delivered right to their homes! These funds will be put into immediate effect to sustain our Distribution Center.

We could not continue our efforts without the the help of folks like you! This aid is vital to restauraunt workers who have lost their incomes, benefits, and workplace support during an already difficult time. Our futures in this industry are uncertain, but with support from our community we will be better able to adapt and change, and to safely reopen our restaurants, bars, and clubs as the joyful gathering places they are meant to be.

We will continue to send project updates as our work continues and expands. If you are not already following us on social media, you can engage with our organization on Facebook and Instagram, and on our website. We have ongoing volunteer opportunities, programming, and ways to donate both financially and in kind! As always, if you or someone you know in the restaurant industry is in need of our assistance, we are here to help! Our Greater Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Mutual Aid group on Facebook has links to all of our resources.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for supporting such an important and meaningful grassroots effort!



Oh Wow!

We did not expect to meet our original goal so quickly. Thank you so much for your initial support, and special thanks to ioby for matching contributions to help us raise money for such a critical community resource!

Our initial budget was set to sustain our current operations through June. As we are seeing the great need for food and household supplies requested by members of the service industry who are affected by COVID-19, we are extending our goals to deliver Care Packages to more households during this time of crisis, and to anticipate the assistance we expect our community to require through the end of 2020.

Your support will help restauraunt workers keep food on the tables as many of us are facing reduced hours, job loss, and lost benefits during this pandemic. As public assistance has been slow, inadaquate, or inaccessible to many of us, we are relying on mutual aid from our greater community to make it through this together!


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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