NTFB, Shiftsmart Innovate to Employ Hospitality Industry Hit by COVID-19

When your county and city order that dine-in service must end at restaurants, or that bars must close, the workers who served the drinks and food are suddenly without jobs.

But help may come from an innovative pivot by a local major charity – the North Texas Food Bank, which has partnered with Shiftsmart to provide jobs.

The food bank said it will employ workers from the hospitality industry who are now without pay as a result of COVID-19’s impact on the economy by “deploying them in place of traditional volunteers to help the Food Bank meet the need for food assistance in North Texas.”

The effort will help in two ways – helping provide relief for staff at bars and restaurants that are now closed or are reducing service to to-go orders only, and beefing up its labor supply in a time where more will need the food bank’s assistance.

“In our lifetime, we have never seen a crisis that has stunted an economy so quickly,” said Patrick Brandt, president of Shiftsmart. “We know that by closing restaurants and entertainment venues, there will be an immediate impact on people’s ability to care for their family. This will mean an increased need for the Food Bank and other non-profits. Our team wanted to create a way to support these workers while also supporting the critical mission of non-profits.”

Shiftsmart will organize the workforce and ensure that the food bank has a steady supply of help.

“During times of uncertainty, it is important to come together to find a way to serve our neighbors in need,” said Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank. “It will take innovation and collaboration to meet the needs for North Texans and we expect these needs to continue to grow in the coming months. We are thankful to the team at Shiftsmart for this innovative platform that is helping people who have lost wages, while allowing us to continue our critical work.”

The NTFB estimates that it will be able to serve more than a million meals per week thanks to the dedicated workforce supply.

The entire effort is funded through the Get Shift Done for North Texas Fund at the Communities Foundation of Texas.

“This innovative solution will provide relief to those who are living paycheck to paycheck who have lost their income in the hospitality industry,” the NTFB said. “It also provides much-needed assistance to the NTFB’s efforts in increased meal distribution during this time of uncertainty.”

This change will go into full effect on March 23. To donate to Get Shift Done, click here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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