Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd is giving back to the community through his Southern Smoke Foundation
As businesses begin to reopen after months of closure, it’s important to remember that some members of the food and beverage industry are still suffering. Luckily there’s help out there, thanks to James Beard award winner Chris Shepherd. You probably recognize the name of this Houston restaurateur and owner of One Fifth, UB Preserv, The Hay Merchant, Georgia James, and Underbelly Catering.
Shepherd’s Southern Smoke Foundation is a nonprofit 501c3 that has a history of helping those in need. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and closures, Southern Smoke has received applications from laid off and furloughed restaurant workers across the country looking to pay the bills.
For reference, their last big relief effort was in response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. They received 300 applications in the first month and a half after Harvey. Meanwhile, in the first month of their Covid relief program, they received over 17,000 applications for aid. Since the beginning of the outbreak, Southern Smoke has distributed more than $3.2 million to those applicants. In addition to their financial assistance, they’ve teamed up with Mental Health America of Greater Houston and the University of Houston to provide free mental healthcare to anyone in the hospitality industry and their children. So far this program exists only in Texas because of state level licensing for mental health providers, but Southern Smoke plans to expand the program nationwide.
We're proud to have them as a customer. Check out this video below, and visit their donation page to make a tax deductible contribution if you’re able!
We know this is a trying time for our industry, which is why we're continuously updating our Covid-19 Resources and Aid page with information about grants and initiatives to help.