Requests for help have flooded into Giving Kitchen — a nonprofit agency that provides emergency assistance to food service workers across Georgia — led by executive director Bryan Schroeder.

In the first three days of the COVID-19 crisis, Giving Kitchen received more requests for assistance than all of 2018. While Giving Kitchen has a strong network of support and community resources, but the past two weeks have been unlike anything Schroeder’s ever experienced, he says.

“We provide emergency assistance to food workers,” Schroeder says. “If a food service worker is sick or injured, or just has a crisis or death in their immediate family, we will help pay a worker’s living expenses.”

But in less than a month’s time, Schroeder already expected Giving Kitchen to far outpace what they had budgeted so far. Giving Kitchen provides thousands of people a connection to community resources in a most desperate time in their lives.

“Do we have the capacity to provide financial assistance to every unemployed food service worker in Georgia? No. But we can be a trusted resource that has the best information about where a food service worker can get help in the community,” Schroeder says. “Over the past few weeks, we’ve had about 20 times the number of assistance inquiries. For people that qualify for financial assistance, we are about four times more, and we expect that to increase. We’ve had about 45,000 unique views on our resources page.”

Thousands of people are out of work as restaurants across the state close their doors—actually nobody knows that better than Schroeder himself. His parents own the restaurant “Schroeder’s New Deli” in Rome.

“Schroeder’s has been open every day of my life, until last week,” he says. “We’re lucky because we’re in a better position than a lot of folks, but it’s upsetting because we care for our employees, and I worry about my parents.”

The reason for the restaurant industry’s state of flux, and the additional call on Giving Kitchen for help in this time of crisis, is the pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

About two weeks into March, major cities across the country began shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms and schools in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of March 31, the infectious disease, COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, has infected more than 215,000 people nationwide and killed more than 4,500.

Businesses shut down in Atlanta and its surrounding communities, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on March 24 issued a “stay-at-home” order for the next 14 days.

Social distancing guidelines were encouraged at the federal, state and local levels.

Giving Kitchen has made a commitment to help those who are facing this unexpected crisis and unemployment.

In the past 15 days, Giving Kitchen has provided more than $100,000 in financial aid for basic living expenses to more than 85 food service workers across Georgia.

Some of the crises Giving Kitchen has helped with include a chef with a cancer diagnosis, a bartender with a broken leg, a server with an emergency pregnancy and child in NICU, a chef who lost his father and is caring for his elderly mother, a manager with a late term miscarriage and over 15 people facing suspected COVID-19 illness or a doctor mandated quarantine because they have a compromised immune system.

But in order to continue this work, Giving Kitchen needs help.

A recent grant from United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta will help Giving Kitchen provide its services.

On March 27, United Way and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta announced its second round of grants allocated from its Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Giving Kitchen was allocated $250,000 in grant funds.

These grants will support increased requests for assistance from food service workers who are currently unemployed and experiencing other crises in the midst of this pandemic outbreak.

“The funds from United Way and Community Foundation will go directly out the door to provide critical living expenses to food service workers—for those impacted by COVID-19 or who need help paying for rent, utilities, etc.,” Schroeder says.

This grant couldn’t come at a more crucial time, Schroeder says. Giving Kitchen is facing an unprecedented demand for its services, and these funds will help them meet the needs of the community.

The food service industry was its largest supporter and they are down for the count. Giving Kitchen has turned to individual donations, foundations and corporations for support.

The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund allows Giving Kitchen to meet its ability to serve those people who serve us and weather the impact of the increased financial demand.

“We have a great working relationship with both [United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta],” Schroeder says. “We use United Way’s 2-1-1 and we are listed as a resource for them, and Community Foundation has been very supportive of us in the past.”

This has been a difficult time, but Schroeder is encouraged by the response he’s seen over the past two weeks.

“We’re so incredibly thankful,” he says. “I have people who ask me all the time, ‘What can I do to help—say, if I have $100?’ I say, “Take the first $25 and spend it on takeout, leave the next $25 as a tip, and with the rest, if you want to give to people who need food and are hungry, give it to a food bank. If you want to help food service workers who are hurt or injured, then you can support Giving Kitchen. If there is another cause near and dear to your heart — give there. We are proud to be one thread in the patchwork quilt of stability for food service workers and the community at large.”

You can provide help today for organizations like Giving Kitchen and other nonprofits who are filling in gaps across Georgia during this time of crisis by donating to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Artist Ronnie Land grew up in the wetlands of Jacksonville, Florida, but he said he gravitated toward Atlanta—there was something about its soul that he fell in love with.

“I was coming up here and pulling pranks and doing pop-up shows in the mid-80s,” Ronnie, who professionally goes by “R.Land,” says. “I felt instantly connected with Atlanta. It’s the center of the region and a center of the world. It’s a cultural refugee center for anybody who wants to come here for opportunity.”

He moved to Atlanta in the 90s, and his deep love for “the city too busy to hate” was reaffirmed. But he started to watch the local, homegrown feel of this city start to lose the very soul that brought him to his new home in the first place.

“It looked like there were hints of it becoming… more of a commercial-type development, and it was something that had long since happened outside of the Perimeter,” says R.Land, whose art has been filling streets, murals and galleries all over the country for the past three decades. “The local businesses, bars, restaurants and intown culture—the neighborhoods of Atlanta were at the core of all of that.”

Atlanta’s “soul was under siege,” he says. So, R.Land created a now iconic image of praying hands clasped together. This art piece displayed the words “Pray for ATL” printed below the hands in what was a desperate plea to the community to take back what Atlanta was on the brink of losing. Those giant, blue-print posters sat in a studio in Inman Park for about two years, he says.

“One night in 2004, I put one up on the overpass at Moreland and DeKalb Avenue,” he says. “That stayed there for I don’t know how many years. It kind of became a viral thing in its own right after that.”

The love for this image grew quickly, and it took on a life of its own. He started creating new prints and murals and it was branded for T-shirts and other merchandise. The image was ambiguous enough that each person who saw it interpreted it in their own way.

“The original idea was not necessarily how everybody took it,” R.Land says with a laugh. “It means different things to different people. It just becomes an identifier to represent our wonderful city.”

Now, years later, the city is again under attack—while that may seem dramatic, it’s not entirely too far off. About two weeks into March, major cities across the country began shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms and schools in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of March 25, the infectious disease, COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, has infected more than 70,000 people nationwide and killed more than 1,000.

Businesses shut down in Atlanta and its surrounding communities, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on March 24 issued a “stay-at-home” order for the next 14 days.

Social distancing guidelines were encouraged at the federal, state and local levels. One of the best ways—outside of isolation—to prevent the spread of disease, is to wash your hands frequently, experts say.

As the information of the virus spread to R.Land, the mental image of two hands clasped together in soapy water inspired him.

It was obvious what he had to do.

 

‘I DIDN’T EXPECT ANYTHING TO COME FROM IT’

R.Land went back to his studio in Inman Park and looked at that “Pray for ATL” design.

He then slightly altered the blue hands with soapy bubbles lathered up on the tips of its fingers, and the print below read “Wash for ATL”

“You start hearing all the language in the media and how it’s so important to keep your hands clean—there’s more to do than wash your hands— but it just seemed so obvious,” R.Land says. “It was a perfect sort of pivot that is another idea akin to this. I didn’t expect anything to come from it at all, but after the first 24 hours there was no question.”

He posted the image to his Instagram and within in minutes it exploded. It caught fire within the hour, and he said it had “more response than anything [he] had ever posted.”

People kept asking him to put the image on a T-shirt, print or anything else. They wanted to buy it and display it. The emails came flooding in. But then he got an email from a representative at United Way of Greater Atlanta asking about a possible collaboration.

“I have always been familiar with United Way and had a great respect for the organization,” R.Land says. “I had been inundated with emails and Instagram messages, but then I got an email from [SPC Sales Manager] Bill Campbell, and his message resonated more with me. I thought about how [United Way] worked and would have power in a broader way to get people help in the smallest amount of time. I thought this would be the fastest way to help the most people.”

The design was fit to T-shirts, stickers and coffee mugs with portions of each purchase going to United Way and Community Foundation’s Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. R.Land and Bang-On Custom T-shirts in Little Five Points have collaborated with United Way of Greater Atlanta to design and print the T-shirts, donating $10 from each T-shirt sold.

The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund provides immediate support to those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic such as help with emergency assistance, health services and additional critical needs such as childcare and food.

You can donate now to the fund, but if you or anyone you know needs immediate assistance, you can contact United Way’s 2-1-1 Contact Center.

The “Pray for ATL” design is something R.Land says has been continuous throughout his life, and it was exciting to have the opportunity to collaborate on this scale to help people in this city who needed it most.

“I want to see this max out and be the best it can be so we can help in the best way we can,” R. Land says.

ATLANTA – March 26, 2020 – Last week, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta announced the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to direct funding to nonprofit organizations and other agencies on the front lines helping our region weather this unprecedented health crisis.

 Today, the organizations reveal the Fund’s first grants, totaling $1.5 million to three organizations for emergency response. Grant recipients are: 

 Atlanta Community Food Bank supports a network of almost 700 nonprofit feeding programs in 29 counties in metro Atlanta and north Georgia, and distributes more than 70 million pounds of food and grocery products each year. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, more than 785,000 people in our community were food insecure, and that number is expected to rise as individuals and families face financial hardships. This grant will support the purchase of food to respond to increased need and reduced donations during the COVID-19 crisis.

Open Hand Atlanta provides prepared meals and nutrition services for homebound seniors and individuals with critical/chronic illnesses, an audience that is particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Eighty percent of the people Open Hand serves are over the age of 47. The grant will assist general capacity and increased production of frozen meals and shelf-stable boxed items, and increased delivery to seniors who previously obtained their meals at senior centers that are now temporarily closed.

YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta provides early education for more than 7,000 children annually at more than 40 centers, partnership sites and afterschool programs across metro Atlanta and northeast Georgia. As most early learning and afterschool programs closed in response to the crisis, the YMCA designed a program to serve children ages 3 to 12 of frontline hospital staff and regional essential employees (law enforcement, fire fighters, grocery store workers, etc.) who must continue working. The grant will support the cost of providing childcare for up to 2,000 children throughout their service area.  

Grants from the Fund focus on immediate and critical needs to support those most vulnerable. United Way and Community Foundation staff, with the guidance of a volunteer steering committee comprised of leading individuals from civic, corporate and nonprofit sectors across the region, are identifying additional organizations currently providing or receiving requests for support. This includes working closely with the State of Georgia’s Coronavirus Task Force Committee for Homeless and Displaced Persons, and other state and federal supports that are to be issued in the coming days and weeks.

Support funds will be released on a rolling basis throughout the outbreak and recovery phases of this crisis, making it possible to deploy resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs in subsequent funding phases. United Way will administer grants from the Fund. Community Foundation and United Way will announce the process for nonprofits to share their information and needs no later than April 6. The Community Foundation will also announce a grant process specifically for arts organizations in that same timeframe.

 “We have streamlined our funding process to ensure that money available through this Fund flows to nonprofit organizations swiftly and efficiently,” said Lita Pardi, interim vice president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “We recognize that each day brings new hardships for our first responders and our most vulnerable residents, and we lift up the valiant efforts of organizations that have been nimble to respond to those critical needs.”

The fund was announced March 17 with Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta committing $1 million and United Way of Greater Atlanta contributing $500,000 to seed the fund. In the days following, the Coca-Cola Company, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation each donated $5 million to the fund in support. Other current funders include the City of Atlanta and Truist Foundation contributing $1 million each, Wells Fargo and Global Payments contributing $250,000 each, The Primerica Foundation contributing $50,000, and $25,000 jointly from 11Alive and the TEGNA Foundation.

“In just one week, we received a groundswell of support from corporations, foundations and individuals across Greater Atlanta,” says United Way of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Milton J. Little, Jr. “Thanks to their immediate and generous response, we are able to infuse substantial funding into those organizations that are on the front lines of meeting the urgent needs of our vulnerable populations.”

 

The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund bolsters nonprofit organizations supporting:

  •   Families with young children and children on free and reduced lunch
  •   Individuals without health insurance, access to sick days or access to  healthcare
  •   Seniors and older adults
  •   Low-wage workers including hospitality, service industry and gig economy workers

 

Initial priorities will focus on the immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations resulting from closures and support community safety nets such as food insecurity, rent and utility assistance, medical supports and childcare. Additional priorities are the educational and emotional needs of children and youth across our region. Funds will help fill gaps for nonprofits before federal and other funding flows to this sector.

 Our region is likely to experience stresses in many areas: income insecurity, evictions, food insecurity, access to health care, childcare while schools are closed, access to online learning for K-12 students, small business bankruptcies and nonprofit closures. The Community Foundation and United Way continue to monitor impacts to our nonprofit sector as this crisis impacts our region.

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support can contact United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center. Due to high call volumes, texting is the quickest way to get in touch with United Way 2-1-1. Text 211od to 898-211 to get a list of resources by zip code. The 2-1-1 database is another quick way to find resources during this time of increased call volume. 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.

The need continues to rise as stories accumulate from across our neighborhoods, donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund today. The next round of grants will be announced by Friday, March 27.

 The Community Foundation will continue to update details for donors and nonprofits through its blog and via social media via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been leading and inspiring philanthropy to increase the vitality of our region and the well-being of all residents. With nearly 70 years serving the 23-county Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation expands its philanthropic reach and impact by providing quality services to donors and bold, innovative community leadership. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 750 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. For more information, visit: cfgreateratlanta.org or connect with the Foundation via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Media Contacts:

For United Way United Way of Greater Atlanta

Chad Parker, 404.358.5055

cparker@unitedwayatlanta.org

 

 

ATLANTA— Two renowned Atlanta institutions have pledged an additional $10 million to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund on the heels of yesterday’s announcement from United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The Coca-Cola Company and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation have each donated $5 million to the fund in order to support those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related impacts caused by the pandemic.

“The Coca-Cola Company is a global business. While our philanthropic work reaches around the world, we also have a long history of focusing on critical needs in our hometown of Atlanta,” said James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “We are deeply concerned about the growing impact of coronavirus in Atlanta and beyond, especially in the most vulnerable parts of our communities. We are using the resources of our company and The Coca-Cola Foundation to make a difference by providing much-needed assistance to organizations that are positioned to mobilize quickly and provide essential humanitarian relief.”

Funds raised will be directed to nonprofit organizations and other agencies focused on providing crucial services to high-risk audiences including seniors, families with children who normally receive free or reduced meals at school, families in need of childcare, homeowners and renters at risk for eviction, and hourly/low-wage workers.

“Thank you to The Coca-Cola Company and the Woodruff Foundation for their investments in the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund,” said United Way of Greater Atlanta CEO Milton Little. “Their donations will go a long way in easing the burden being placed on families in the wake of this crisis. We hope their gifts will inspire other companies and individuals to join in this important philanthropic effort.”

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support can contact United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center. There are many ways to connect to 2-1-1 including by phone, chat, email or mobile app. 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.

“It’s in times of crisis when the Atlanta community truly comes together and shines in its generosity,” said Lita Pardi, interim vice president at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “We are overwhelmed by these generous gifts and will be working swiftly with our partners in the nonprofit community to get our neighbors the resources and help they need so badly right now.”

Russ Hardin, President of The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, said, “The Woodruff Foundation is eager to help Atlantans weather this crisis, and we are counting on our Community Foundation and our United Way to get resources to those that need them most.”

To donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, click here.

 

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been leading and inspiring philanthropy to increase the vitality of our region and the well-being of all residents. With nearly 70 years serving the 23-county Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation expands its philanthropic reach and impact by providing quality services to donors and bold, innovative community leadership. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 750 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. For more information, visit: cfgreateratlanta.org or connect with the Foundation via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Media Contacts

For United Way United Way of Greater Atlanta

Chad Parker, 404.358.5055

cparker@unitedwayatlanta.org

ATLANTA – With children out of school, businesses temporarily closing, performances shuttered and workers being laid off, there has never been a time where community support and financial resources have been more badly needed. United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta are announcing the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The new fund will support those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related impacts caused by the pandemic. The Community Foundation is committing $1 million and United Way of Greater Atlanta is contributing $500,000 to seed the fund. Additional dollars will be sought from individual donors, corporate partners and foundations.

Funds raised will focus on providing crucial services to high-risk audiences including seniors, families with children who normally receive free or reduced meals at school, families in need of childcare, homeowners and renters at risk for eviction, and hourly/low-wage workers.

“United Way and our partners at the Community Foundation are uniquely positioned to quickly and effectively identify areas with the greatest need, activate and connect people to resources,” said Milton Little, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We are committed to securing and supporting the community safety nets needed for Child Well Being in these unprecedented times.”

“The Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2019 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey revealed that 46 percent  of families in metro Atlanta do not have $400 on hand in case of an emergency and this crisis will only amplify that vulnerability,” said Lita Pardi, interim vice president at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “Bolstering support of our nonprofits addressing these needs is essential, and funders are working together to quickly support the residents and communities in our region.”

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support can contact United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center. There are many ways to connect to 2-1-1 including by phone, chat, email or mobile app. 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.

To donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, click here.

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been leading and inspiring philanthropy to increase the vitality of our region and the well-being of all residents. With nearly 70 years serving the 23-county Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation expands its philanthropic reach and impact by providing quality services to donors and bold, innovative community leadership. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 750 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. For more information, visit: cfgreateratlanta.org or connect with the Foundation via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contacts:

For United Way United Way of Greater Atlanta
Chad Parker, 404.358.5055
cparker@unitedwayatlanta.org

United Way of Greater Atlanta has been closely monitoring developments related to the novel coronavirus. Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on large gatherings, we have decided to postpone all events starting Monday, March 16 until further notice. While we are disappointed that we won’t be gathering for events, we’re dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of all involved. We will continue to monitor developments to determine if further postponements are needed or if a virtual experience is appropriate. Please stay tuned for future communications from United Way of Greater Atlanta regarding all postponed or virtual events.

In times of need, United Way of Greater Atlanta is here for the community. That’s how we started – supporting our community during a massive snow and ice storm that disabled the City of Atlanta in 1905. At this moment, our community is facing a new challenge and United Way is again here to help.

United Way of Greater Atlanta is helping address the negative impacts of the novel coronavirus in our community. We are in close contact with the CDC, reporting out all concerns related to COVID-19 that are communicated to us through our 2-1-1 Contact Center. We standby, through our 2-1-1 Contact Center, to support individuals and families who find themselves in need during this uncertain time.

Simply put, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center connects families with the community-based resources they need to thrive. There are many ways to connect to 2-1-1 including by phone, chat, email, or mobile app.

We encourage you to share with others that 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.