In the first of what will be weekly briefings, the USBG National Charity Foundation (USBGNCF) held an Instagram Live session to provide updates on its Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP) COVID-19 Relief Campaign.
USBG National Charity Foundation Board Member and Director Kim Haasarud led the session and provided more information about the program, an update on numbers, and answered questions from members of the industry.
Haasarud started by explaining that the BEAP was started as a way to provide bartenders with a safety net. “The foundation was started because we realized a lot of bartenders don’t have a big safety net,” she said. “And the insurance that they’re able to get through their employers is often not adequate.”
Over the past few years, BEAP typically awarded 12-25 grants a quarter. Since launching its COVID-19 Relief Campaign, those numbers have jumped significantly.
Haasarud said within 48 hours of receiving the first major donation from Jameson on St. Patrick’s Day, the fund had received 40,000 applications. That number doubled over the next few days. To date, USBGNCF has received just under 300,000 applications. With almost 700,000 bartenders working in the U.S. according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s nearly half of all bartenders across the country.
“It has required us to massively scale up our technology, how we screen applications, our volunteer force,” says Haasarud. “Never before did we anticipate that we would be in this position.”
Nearly 500 volunteers work to screen and vet applications, working to make decisions in the 4-6 week timeline that the program has always operated under.
To date, the COVID-19 Relief Campaign has $6.5 million committed from over 3,900 donors across the industry. The USBGNCF started giving out the first grants on April 8 and estimates that by the end of this month they will have given out $1.5 million in grants.
Previously, USBGNCF was awarding grants in amounts up to $2500 through BEAP. Through its current COVID-19 Relief Campaign, those grants are now in amounts of $150-$500. Haasarud emphasized that the point of these grants is not to make someone whole. “It’s really made to help offset any federal assistance that you’re getting,” she said. “It’s supposed to cushion the blow.”
When asked why the $6.5 million wasn’t distributed equally amongst all of the applicants, Haasarud said that wouldn’t fit with the campaign’s mission of eligibility, which is to support bartenders experiencing emergency hardships and situations. She acknowledged that the entire industry is going through a difficult time, but that there are varying levels of need and difficulty. “We are all in the same storm, but we’re not in the same boat,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is really reach those with the most need.”
She went on to say that dividing the funds equally would result in an amount going to each applicant that would be too small to make much of a difference. “There’s a lot of pain out there,” she said, overcome with emotion. “We hope to be able to assist as many people as possible that have the most need as possible.”
Haasarud ended the briefing by suggesting ways in which bartenders can improve their chances of having their application approved. She said first and foremost that applicants must currently work full-time as a bartender (those who work part-time as a bartender in addition to another job are not eligible).
Secondly, she said applicants should make sure to read the FAQs for applicants on USBGNCF’s site before applying so they know what information they need to include on the application. She cited tax return information as important for verifying things like employment, occupation, and number of dependents. She said very personal information like social security numbers and addresses weren’t crucial to the application.
Many applications have been turned down due to being incomplete, and Haasarud recommends people reapply if their application was incomplete the first time.
Haasarud concluded by acknowledging that the need will fluctuate but is not going to disappear for a while. She noted a drop-off in applicants due to people receiving unemployment and stimulus checks. However, she invited applicants to reapply if their situations have worsened since the start of the pandemic or their first application.
The next update from USBG will be on Thursday, April 30 at 3 pm EST live on their Instagram page: @USBGNCF.
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By Ashley Bray