ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A grant program established to help restaurants struggling under the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is reaping rewards for the businesses and those consuming their goods.
The Restaurant Rescue program aims to keep restaurants busy while feeding residents in need, Alaska Public Media reported Monday.
Virus health restrictions over the past year helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but many businesses had to limit operations and some closed altogether.
The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for more than a third of the state’s 2020 job losses.
The program, a partnership between the United Way of Anchorage, the Alaska Hospitality Retailers Association and the Municipality of Anchorage, was established in October through a grant from the Alaska Community Foundation and the state Department of Health and Social Services.
United Way President and CEO Clark Halvorson said 16 restaurants benefiting from the program have delivered more than 41,000 meals to community members.
“It was an opportunity to create a win-win-win across the whole system,” Halvorson said. “To really be able to get restaurants back up and running, keep those staff working, add hours, as well as feed some of our most needy in our community.”
Restaurants in the program are paid based on the number of meals delivered.
“The restaurants are really a one-stop shop for us, which is great,” Halvorson said. “They’re producing the meals, they’re packaging the meals and then they’re distributing the meals themselves to our endpoints.”
The Municipality of Anchorage allocated $600,000 to help launch a second round of the program, while the Alaska Community Foundation contributed $125,000.
“Our hope is that this moves from restaurant rescue to turning the restaurants back on in the future,” Halvorson said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.