Foundation launches restaurant and lodging employee relief fund

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Restaurant employees
Photo by iStock

A statewide hospitality industry-focused foundation is launching a fund that will offer $500 grants to employees in the restaurant and lodging industries.

The Lansing-based nonprofit Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation (MRLAEF) said Monday that it created the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund.

The fund — which will award $500 grants to approved applicants until resources are depleted — is designed to assist employees of Michigan’s restaurant and lodging industries who need support due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The hospitality industry has been upended by the pandemic with more than half of the 600,000 hospitality workers in Michigan expected to temporarily lose their jobs,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA.

“We are all in this fight together and have committed to match dollar for dollar the first $100,000 in contributions made to the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund.”

Those interested in donating may do so online at mrlaef.org/relief-fund or by sending a check to the MRLAEF with “Michigan Hospitality Employee Relief Fund” written in the memo line to 225 W. Washtenaw St., Lansing, MI 48933.

“The mission of the MRLAEF is to educate and support our workforce, and there has never been a more acute need for such support,” said Amanda Smith, executive director of the MRLAEF. “We have dedicated our team to supporting them through this challenging time.”

Grant applicants must demonstrate proof of employment in the hospitality industry on March 10 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Michigan, as well as proof of furlough or job loss in the wake of that date.

All hospitality employees in Michigan are eligible to apply for funds from the Michigan Hospitality Employee Relief Fund.

People can apply at mrlaef.org/relief-fund.

Restaurant employees also can apply for financial assistance from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Relief Fund at rerf.us.

Donors to the Michigan Hospitality Employee Relief Fund so far include the Musser family, Great Lakes Wine & Spirits, KSL Capital Partners + Grand Hotel, Imperial Beverage, Republic National Distributing Company and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

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