The Oklahoma Restaurant Association through its Hospitality Employee Relief Program has raised over $500,000 to help laid-off restaurant employees, it said Tuesday.
Almost one in 10 working Oklahomans are employed by the restaurant industry, and layoffs in the state have topped 65,000. In an industry with notoriously slim profit margins, restaurants have been hard hit economically since March, the organization said.
“Our goal since day one of this crisis has been to help in any way possible,” said Chandy Rice, director of education for the Oklahoma Restaurant Association.
To date, the ORA has awarded 625 grants to laid-off restaurant workers thanks to donations including lead gifts from the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation in Tulsa and the Cresap Family Foundation in Oklahoma City. Their lead donations of $100,000 each launched the fund that has awarded grants in the amounts of $500 and $1,000.
Applicants from the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas have reached more than 2,500 individuals during the application window.