Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, Filipino Americans across the country have shown their bayanihan spirit by supporting workers on the front lines of the pandemic and families in need.
In the Bay Area, non-profit economic development and arts organization Kultivate Labs launched the #FilipinosFeedtheFrontLines campaign in April to raise $100,000.
The funds would help stabilize 10 Fil-Am-owned restaurants and provide 10,000 meals for health care workers and scientists and Filipino seniors and low-income families in the South of Market (SOMA) and Excelsior neighborhoods of San Francisco.
Four months later, the campaign has surpassed its goal, raising $101,512 from 1,075 donors nationwide.
“With the help of over 1,000 donors from around the nation, we were able to hit our lofty goal of $100,000 to stabilize Filipino food businesses and send food to hard-hit communities and front line health care workers. The only problem is that the crisis is not over. COVID-19 continues to decimate communities and the restaurant industry,” Kultivate Labs Executive Director Desi Danganan said in a statement.
The tiers for pitching in include: $10 for a meal; $50 for a family of five; $100 to feed a staff of 10. The campaign has also expanded into limited-edition merchandise, such as $33 for a tote bag that will send groceries to a senior; a $35 face covering that will send two meals to front-liners, and $23 commemorative shirts that will send one meal to the front lines. (Donations can be made at www.filipinosfeedthefrontlines.org.)
As of this writing, 9,791 meals have been delivered to front-line health care workers at hospitals and facilities, such as Seton Medical Center in Daly City and Chan Zuckerberg BioHub, as well as to seniors and families through partnerships with community organizations like United Playaz, SOMCAN, WestBay, and the Filipino Community Center.
Though the initial goal was to hit 10,000 meals, the initiative has upped it to 100,000 meals.
In a survey conducted by Kultivate Labs earlier this spring, 40% of Filipino businesses reported having to lay off their staff and 67% of these businesses only had two months until they are insolvent.
The participating restaurants selected for the initiative have been involved with the UNDSCVRD Night Market network of businesses or are part of the Kusinerio Alliance of Filipino Food, Danganan previously told the Asian Journal.
They include: The Sarap Shop, Senor Sisig, Mestiza, Little Skillet, Manila Bowl, IVSF Catering and SF Chicken Box, FK Frozen Custard, Lumpia Company, Nick’s on Mission and Grand, Ox and Tiger, and Pinoy Heritage.
The campaign has generated an average of 22% income to participating restaurants, Kultivate Labs said.
Aside from individual donations, #FilipinosFeedTheFrontlines has also gained funding from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development / SOMA Stabilization Fund, SF Foundation, and corporations, such as Wells Fargo Foundation, Brookfield, Alexandria, Boston Properties, URW / Westfield, and Filipino Googler’s Network.
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To celebrate our $100k goal for @filipinosfeedthefrontlines , we’re launching a one day pop-up happy hour celebration at @merkadosf on Friday, July 17th from 5-8pm with the @thelumpiacompany . Your purchase includes: 6 pieces of lumpia, choice of flavors: pinakbet, diniguan, tinola; 1 Marcado Margarita or Calamansi Coole; 1 Meal donated to the frontlines. The regular menu will also be available so come out and help us celebrate! Order your lumpia package: bit.ly/2Ck2INI
To celebrate reaching the $100,000 goal, the Lumpia Company will host a pop-up, at Merkado’s outdoor patio (130 Townsend Street, San Francisco) on Friday, July 17th, from 5-8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance on the campaign’s website. Each ticket includes six (6) pieces of lumpia, a dessert, a drink, and sends one meal to a front line worker.
Given the success of the Bay Area campaign, Kultivate Labs is now seeking to take the campaign nationwide to other cities with sizable Fil-Am populations and restaurants in need.
“Our model of community stabilization works, so we’re going to scale it nationwide, to support Filipino American restaurants across the country, and their respective communities,” Danganan said.