Culinaria, the nonprofit whose mission is to promote San Antonio's culinary community, is finding new ways to assist the local hospitality industry navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
In the past, the organization’s fundraising was structured through events like Titans of Tailgate and 5K Wine Run, physical events that benefit specific individuals, families, or organizations. Now that public gatherings are prohibited, Culinaria is lending a helping hand to members of their culinary tribe.
“This is definitely an unprecedented time for us all and our hope is to support furloughed industry workers that have helped put this city on the map as a culinary destination,” says Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge, president and CEO of Culinaria.
To address the short- and long-term needs of individuals, restaurants, and bars in the San Antonio area, Culinaria is rolling out three initiatives beginning with HospitALLity House, which launched on March 20. (Read CultureMap's previous coverage of HospitALLity House here.)
A hot meal now
HospitALLity House provides those working in the hospitality industry a hot meal from famed local chef Jason Dady. Along with his "hot meals dream team," Dady dishes out food from 4-7 pm Monday through Saturday at Alamo BBQ located at 511 East Grayson St. (This week, Culinaria updated service times; they are no longer serving on Sundays and have reduced offerings from two meals a day to dinner only.)
Food donations and monetary contributions from individuals and businesses have helped support this program, which has already fed more than 12,000 individuals during its first two weeks of operation.
In addition to hot meals, Culinaria is also offering family meal kits that are networked through chefs for distribution to furloughed workers. Hospitality businesses who have employees in need can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in the kit distribution.
“It’s a true testament to the chef community and how they have rallied to help all of their furloughed employees,” says Dady, who is also an executive board member of Culinaria.
For long-term needs, an emergency relief fund has been established and will issue funds to hospitality workers in need of financial assistance. Individuals and businesses are encouraged to donate to the fund through PayPal or Venmo at @Culinaria. For those who would like to request relief, the application process is outlined on its website.
Cooking up a brighter future
Culinaria is also continuing to to raise funds for the programs that will help restaurants and bars to reopen when that time ultimately comes.
“Of course, our biggest efforts are to make sure that these individuals are provided a meal and a bit of hope that everything is going to be okay,” Taranto-Etheredge notes. “Right now, we’re trying to be flexible and adapt in an effort to assist in any way we can.”
Additionally, Culinaria is in the midst of Restaurant Weeks To-Go, a campaign promoting restaurants that have remained open for to-go, curbside, and delivery services during the new restrictions. Culinaria has a complete listing of participating restaurants, along with information.
Also, information about other restaurants that have stepped in to help with meals at their own establishments is updated daily on Culinaria's social media pages.