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Guy Fieri raises over $20 million for struggling restaurant workers

Restaurants prepare to reopen with virus guidelines
Restaurants prepare to reopen with virus guidelines 01:53

Guy Fieri is once again stepping up to help people in need, raising more than $20 million for restaurant workers who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, he's helped tens of thousands of people through his relief efforts, and he has no plans of slowing down. 

On Friday, Fieri announced that the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF), which he started in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, is awarding 10,000 new grants to restaurant workers. 

The foundation has approved 40,000 grants total since launching last month, the celebrity chef revealed in an interview with TMZ Live on Friday. 

"I started thinking about my brothers and sisters in the restaurant business, and a bunch of restaurants that I was closing — we gotta do something," Fieri said of starting the relief fund. 

The "Mayor of Flavortown" said the fund has now raised $21.5 million for struggling restaurant industry workers since lockdowns were implemented nationwide less than two months ago. 

Guy Fieri's Raised Over $20 Mil for Out of Work Restaurant Staffers | TMZ by TMZ on YouTube

Fieri said he personally sent video messages to CEOs from PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Uber Eats and other companies to partner with the fund. Celebrities and over 40 big-name brands have also joined the cause, including Food Network, Live Nation, Corona, TikTok and Netflix, among others.  

"As long as the money comes in, we're gonna continue to give these grants," Fieri said. 

A staggering 29 million Americans lost their livelihoods in April as COVID-19 shuttered stores, factories and offices, and canceled events nationwide. With many restaurants and bars across the country closed or limited to take-out service, the restaurant industry has suffered billions of dollars in losses, with no clear path to recovery. 

So far, the restaurant employee relief fund has awarded $500 grants to 40,000 applicants. Restaurant workers who have been impacted financially by the pandemic can apply can for a grant on the RERF website. However, due to an "overwhelming response" of more than 60,000 applicants, the Fund has temporarily stopped accepting new applications.

Fieri remains hopeful for the future of the industry. "I think people are gonna be fired up, gung-ho and ready to get out there and visit their restaurants a lot more than they were prior to the pandemic," he said. 

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