LOS ANGELES—On Wednesday December 3, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city of Los Angeles is offering one-time payments of $800 to residents who live below the federal poverty line, as well as out-of-work restaurant employees who may have been furloughed. 

The Secure Emergency Relief for Vulnerable Employees (SERVE) initiative partnered with the Mayor’s Office and Fund to provide 4,000 local food-service workers with the stipend. This would help many restaurant workers impacted by current restrictions issued by the Los Angeles County and the Department of Public Health, which has suspended outdoor dining.

“Employees in our food-service industry have had to make painful sacrifices — and we have to do everything possible to support them through this time of economic upheaval. SERVE is designed to deliver relief and a little peace of mind to some of our most vulnerable workers — giving thousands of Angelenos a vital lifeline, putting money in their pockets to pay the bills, and upholding our promise to get through this unprecedented moment together,” said Garcetti.

He also signed into law an ordinance that limits delivery app charges to restaurants. This change lowered delivery fees to 15 percent and all other non-delivery charges to 5 percent. He has also pushed for the expansion of his L.A. Al Fresco Program, which allows restaurants to expand dining areas into parking lanes, driving lanes, and private lots adjacent to restaurants. Garcetti launched an $11 million economic relief package for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 last spring.

Kim Prince, owner of Hotville Chicken commented that “[a]s a restaurant owner, it’s a day-to-day struggle to keep morale up when sales are down. Since March 2020, our dining rooms have been shuttered and most recently, we had to close our patio due to the outdoor dining restrictions. However, the restaurant industry is resilient and is only as strong as our workers. The SERVE program for restaurant workers will boost morale and help our most vulnerable workers in need.”

To qualify for the program, applicants must reside within the city of Los Angeles; be 18 years of age or older; have an annual income in 2019 of $58,450 or below prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which is the threshold for the federal poverty level calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and demonstrate economic hardship due to a job loss or at least a 50 percent reduction in income at a food service establishment as a front or back of house employee.

This includes restaurants, food stands, mobile food units and push carts, and breweries, wineries and bars that serve food on the premises. Recipients with confirmed eligibility will be selected and chosen from a randomized list. Applications will open on Monday, December 7, at 9 a.m. and will close at midnight on Friday, December 11.