Celebrity chef Guy Fieri is known for his spiky bleached hair, a love of barbecue, and doing nice things. When California wildfires hit communities last fall, he went to affected areas to feed thousands of firefighters. And now? He’s helped raise nearly $25 million for restaurant staff facing financial struggles because of the pandemic.
Partnering with the National Restaurant Association, Fieri helped launch the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund last spring.
“You know, so many people work in the restaurant industry in multiple jobs, second jobs, single moms, single parents, students, retirees. And the restaurant industry is massively important to our communities,” Fieri told CBS News of the initiative. “And so, when I saw this coming, I said, ‘We got to do something to get some money to these folks.”
There are have 15,000 individual donations made to the fund. And so far, more than 43,000 restaurant employees have received $500 grants in all 50 states as well as in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and D.C.
“There was a story that was said to me about someone saying, ‘I live in a building with a bunch of people who work in the service industry, and none of us have any money—I don’t even have anyone I can borrow money from because nobody I know has any money,’” the Diners Drive-ins and Dives star told CBS. “When you start hearing those kinds of things… there’s nothing more important.”