SERVE initiative will provide aid to thousands working in a vital but hard-hit industry
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Garcetti today announced the Secure Emergency Relief for Vulnerable Employees (SERVE) initiative, a new partnership between the Mayor’s Office and the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, to provide 4,000 local food-service workers with a one-time $800 stipend.
"Employees in our food-service industry have had to make painful sacrifices — and we have to do everything possible to support them through this time of economic upheaval," said Mayor Garcetti. "SERVE is designed to deliver relief and a little peace of mind to some of our most vulnerable workers — giving thousands of Angelenos a vital lifeline, putting money in their pockets to pay the bills, and upholding our promise to get through this unprecedented moment together."
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to workers — and few have been more impacted than the servers, wait staff, cooks, and others who fuel Los Angeles’ food-service industry. Recent protocols put in place by the L.A. County Department of Public Health suspending outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars has left many employees in need of immediate aid.
SERVE is one of many programs developed by Mayor Garcetti and the City of L.A. to support Angelenos who have received limited assistance from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help ease the financial burden faced by food-service workers, Mayor Garcetti signed into law an ordinance that limits delivery app charges to restaurants — capping delivery fees to 15% and all other non-delivery charges to 5%. Mayor Garcetti has also pushed for the expansion of his L.A. Al Fresco Program, the City’s initiative to help local restaurants safely reopen for outdoor dining, and launched an $11 million economic relief package for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 last spring. He has also partnered with Ritual and PayPal to launch Open for Business — a collaboration to help restaurants and other small businesses across L.A. move to contactless transactions, implement touchless payments, and increase their online orders. To date, the program has served 704 restaurants through this partnership.
"As a restaurant owner, it's a day-to-day struggle to keep morale up when sales are down,” said Kim Prince, owner of Hotville Chicken. “Since March 2020, our dining rooms have been shuttered and most recently, we had to close our patio due to the outdoor dining restrictions. However, the restaurant industry is resilient and is only as strong as our workers. The SERVE program for restaurant workers will boost morale and help our most vulnerable workers in need."
To qualify for the program, applicants must reside within the City of Los Angeles; be 18 years of age or older; have an annual income in 2019 of $58,450 or below prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which is the threshold for the federal poverty level calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and demonstrate economic hardship due to a job loss or at least a 50% reduction in income at a food service establishment as a front or back of house employee. This includes restaurants, food stands, mobile food units and push carts, and breweries, wineries and bars that serve food on the premises. Recipients with confirmed eligibility will be selected and chosen from a randomized list. Applications will open on Monday, December 7, at 9:00 AM and will close at midnight on Friday, December 11.
For more information on eligibility, how to apply, and additional COVID-19 support, visit our resources page at Coronavirus.LACity.org/SERVE.