The LEE Initiative, in partnership with HEINZ and Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice (SRRJ), awarded $1,111,000 to 71 number of Black-owned food businesses across the country. These grants are designed to support restaurant owners and to help preserve Black food culture. For a full list of grant winners, visit www.blackkitcheninitiative.com.
“We have always been inspired by the work of the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and were honored to be able to partner with HEINZ to support SRRJ’s goal of assisting Black-owned food businesses,” says The LEE Initiative Co-Founder Managing Director Lindsey Ofcacek.
Of this partnership, Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice Co-Founder Lisa Donovan says, “"It has been an honor and a privilege to meet these business owners and build our community through this work. With any luck, we will get to continue this incredible opportunity to offer support and to build up the restaurateurs, cooks, chefs, and families that define a truly vital pulse in our industry."
The LEE Initiative opened applications earlier this spring, committing to awarding 60 grants and through a generous private donation were able to add 11 more grant recipients.
“We’re thrilled to partner with The LEE Initiative and SRRJ to help foster a more diverse and equitable restaurant industry, as well as preserve the role that black food has played in shaping history, food and culture,” said Ashleigh Gibson, Brand Director, HEINZ. “We’re inspired by each of our grantees’ unique stories, and are proud to have played a small part in preserving their restaurants’ legacies.”
Additionally, the team at HEINZ is launching a podcast mini-series, The Black Kitchen Initiative, on September 29. In this podcast series, Food Historian Adrian Miller will interview several of the grant winners. The podcast will be available for streaming via www.blackkitcheninitiative.com. Grant recipients will also be able to leverage HEINZ employee resources and business expertise to further support the longevity of Black-owned restaurants and entrepreneurship, such as assistance, training and resources in human resources, finance, marketing and more.
To learn more about the The LEE Initiative, visit www.leeinitiative.org
About The LEE Initiative
Lindsey Ofcacek and Edward Lee founded The LEE Initiative in 2017 in response to the #MeToo movement. The LEE Initiative creates and implements programs to address issues of diversity and equality in the restaurant industry, always with a focus on increasing opportunities for employment and helping to make the restaurant industry more sustainable. During the COVID-19 outbreak, The LEE Initiative launched The Restaurant Workers Relief Program. This program started in March 2020 out of the catering kitchen of Edward Lee’s restaurant, 610 Magnolia, and expanded to include services offered out of 19 kitchens nationwide. The LEE Initiative also created several additional relief kitchens including McAtee Community Kitchen and Jefferson County Public School Family Meal. In total, The LEE Initiative has distributed over 1.5 million meals throughout the pandemic. As restaurants start to reopen, The LEE Initiative launched the Restaurant Reboot Relief Program to help fix the supply chain, committing to invest $1 million into sustainable farms. Farms will then give that product to restaurant partners as the restaurants reopen. For more information visit the website or donation page.
About The Kraft HEINZ Company
We are driving transformation at The Kraft HEINZ Company (Nasdaq: KHC), inspired by our Purpose, Let’s Make Life Delicious. Consumers are at the center of everything we do. With 2020 net sales of approximately $26 billion, we are committed to growing our iconic and emerging food and beverage brands on a global scale. We leverage our scale and agility to unleash the full power of Kraft HEINZ across a portfolio of six consumer-driven product platforms. As global citizens, we’re dedicated to making a sustainable, ethical impact while helping feed the world in healthy, responsible ways. Learn more about our journey by visiting www.kraftHEINZcompany.com or following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
About Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice
We are a coalition of bakers, chefs, makers, and restaurant owners joined together to do the work to benefit Black communities in the South, specifically Black-owned restaurants that are struggling in this dire time. Our aim is to collectively raise and provide financial resources to protect Black businesses in our industry while also amplifying Black leadership, messaging, and progress. As a coalition, we aim to provide opportunities for our members to support our causes without burdening our already overwhelmed industry, truly engaging in the idea that many hands make light work and that, together, we can create a much more significant impact for change. We are committed to this work and aim to keep the momentum of this moment alive in our efforts for many years to come.