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Here's where striking actors and writers can eat for free

Hollywood strike being felt across country
Hollywood strike being felt in cities across the country 03:09

Striking Hollywood actors and writers who haven't worked in weeks or even months say they are already struggling to make ends meet. As the strikes drag on with no resolution in sight, some restaurants, a food bank and well-off celebrities have volunteered to feed actors for free.

World Harvest Food Bank in Los Angeles' Arlington Heights neighborhood is among the organizations helping fill actors' and writers' bellies as they demand higher pay, better residual payment and guarantees they won't be supplanted by artificial intelligence

All actors and writers have to do to take home a full cart of groceries, including fresh produce worth about $300, is show their union cards. The offer stands until the strike resolves.

"They're starving artists"

The food bank's founder and CEO, Glen Curado, said shoppers typically can either donate $55 or volunteer for a couple of hours in exchange for a basket of groceries from top-tier supermarkets worth roughly $300. But he's waiving the donation or volunteer requirement for actors with a union card for the duration of the strike.

"They're starving artists to begin with," Curado told CBS MoneyWatch. "And the strike has been going on for months. I said, 'Let's give them a whole shopping cart of groceries.'"

Kristina Wong, a member, of the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which is leading the strike, was integral to launching the effort and spreading awareness. 

"Free groceries for SAG-AFTRA actors and [Writers Guild of America] writers until the end of the strike!" she wrote on Instagram. "This is a totally real offer to get our union siblings through this historic fight for our livelihoods!"

The food bank's approach to helping underserved Los Angeles residents eat is different than most, she explained. 

"There's this idea of a pathetic, dire person who deserves to get free food. So much of that is because of how undignified the process of getting free food usually is," she told CBS MoneyWatch. 

She estimates that more than 100 members of the actors' and writers' unions have stopped by the food bank to fill up their carts. 

"Some people are breaking down crying because they are terrified about their livelihoods," she said. 

Curado is keeping a log of union members who visit World Harvest. 

"We log their name and they're more than welcome to come back as many times as they want. It's an honor system," he said."For as long as the strike is going on, I am going to be committed to every single SAG and WGA family member. When they come in I will take care of them," he added. 

Funded by private donations, Curado encourages anyone with the means to contribute through the food bank's website.  

"The idea is to give back"

In New York, two restaurants are also offering to feed performers for free.

After 9 p.m., SAG-AFTRA card holders can enjoy free meals at Manhattan theater district establishments Nizza and Marseille. Beverages (tax and tips aren't included.) It's an offer Robert Guarino, the owner of both restaurants, also made to Broadway performers, who work in an industry that has long supported his establishments, when they went on strike in 2020. 

"Because we are a theater-driven restaurant, the idea is to give back," Nizza and Marseille restaurant manager David Trufcello told CBS MoneyWatch. Guarino "is now carrying that same thing into the SAG-AFTRA strikes."

The establishments will keep track of actors' tabs, but will not expect out-of-work performers to pay them back. 

SAG actress on strike: It's painful, but "we're in it for the long haul" 06:30

"We didn't seek anybody from Broadway out for their money, we're not going to seek anybody from SAG out either," Trufcello said. "If anyone says, 'I'm doing well now, I'll pay you,' fine, but nobody will get billed."

Trufcello said "a few" actors have taken advantage of the deal since it went into effect at both restaurants last week. 

Some celebrities are also contributing to funds to support actors. Comedian and "The Price Is Right" host Drew Carey in May made an offer on Twitter to cover writers' meal tabs at two Los Angeles restaurants, Bob's Big Boy and Swingers Diner, for the duration of the strike. 

And Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson recently made a seven-figure donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Emergency Financial Assistance and Disaster Relief Fund.

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