Working off of almost $1.5 million in donated funds and counting, SF New Deal has not only helped 50 San Francisco restaurants and food businesses keep some staff employed, it's also helping provide a bridge in terms of meal delivery for SF's hungry and homebound.
It's an inspirational, fast-moving story the likes of which we've heard more than a handful in recent months. And while the restaurant industry will continue to suffer to months if not years to come because of this pandemic, at least for a few dozen SF businesses, feeding the community has been a source of guaranteed revenue for the last six weeks or so.
As executive director Lenore Estrada — who is also the owner of pie-catering business Three Babes Bake Shop — explains in the video below, SF New Deal has been able to provide the 50 restaurants they're now working with with about $8,000 a week in guaranteed funds, which the restaurants are using both make meals — sometimes with heavily discounted or donated ingredients — and to pay staff.
Eater first reported on the creation of the nonprofit back in late March, which took shape with the help of Estrada's longtime college friend, Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear. "He’s just a civic-minded person, interested in supporting the city and small businesses," Estrada said at the time. Shear personally committed $1 million of his own money to the cause, and as the Business Times reports, SF New Deal has continued to attract crowdfunding and bigger donations — including $100,000 from the Merrill Family Foundation.
Meals are going to out to organizations like Larkin Street Youth Services, UCSF mental health services, and the SF African American Faith Based Coalition. To date, SF New Deal has delivered over 137,000 meals to people in need.
Among the restaurants working with the organization are Nopa, Mourad, Rich Table, Tartine, Mister Jiu's, Causwells, and Nightbird. As Nightbird chef Kim Alter tells the Business Times, "It’s enabled me to sustain my business. I don’t want to say it’s brought us back to normal because I don’t know if I’ll ever be using that word again."
Also, as many restaurateurs know, receiving those all-important PPE loans from the federal government comes with the stipulation of rehiring staff — but if a restaurant isn't doing any business, that just puts them right back in the hole again very quickly. Nonprofit efforts like this are able to bridge that gap so that a business has both a hope of paying other expenses and has a reason for operating at all.
In addition to making these meals, Nopa is offering dinner takeout to regular customers as well, Tuesday through Saturday, with online orders beginning at 1 p.m.; and Rich Table just started doing the same on weekends.
And the efforts of SF New Deal are an echo of what Che Fico chef David Nayfeld has been doing since March at a smaller scale. Nayfeld has been taking family-style takeout orders in addition to letting people sponsor free meals for hungry families, with some initial seed funding from former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who is an investor in the restaurant.
If you want to donate to New Deal SF, you can do so here. Estrada and Shear expect to keep the program going for the rest of the month and for however much longer the donations continue coming in.