Stephani Mitchell, Marketing & Communications Specialist, San Diego Workforce Partnership
Amidst the rain clouds of bad news, one California initiative is offering hope by transforming traditional restaurant operations to kitchens that provide food on a sliding scale to low-wage workers, health care professionals, first responders, and others in need.
The new program is a statewide network of independent restaurants called High Road Kitchens. It provides jobs for restaurant workers and a subsidy for responsible restaurant owners who commit to paying a living wage and following equitable employment practices across the state.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership and The San Diego Foundation are coordinating with local restaurants—including Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant and Super Cocina—and One Fair Wage to fund the training, start-up costs and initial wages for workers rehired as part of this initiative.
“This pandemic has hit restaurants hard,” says Mikey Knab, Director of Operations at Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant. “Now, with High Road Kitchens, we’re able to keep our employees working with the long-term initiative of increasing their wages."
"Being able to welcome the community with food is exactly why we’re here, and now we get to show extra love to those who need it most.”
Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant and Super Cocina are offering 500 free meals to essential and low-wage workers over the course of the program. They are also offering curbside pickup for customers paying on a sliding scale, allowing those who are financially able to subsidize free meals for those who are food insecure during the COVID-19 crisis. The goal is to include at least 15 restaurants and serve at least 7,500 free meals in San Diego County.
“Helping our neighbors and friends get through this pandemic requires a multitude of unique collaborations like High Road Kitchens,” says Mark Stuart, President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “We are honored to be a lead partner in this innovative initiative connecting the generous spirit of San Diegans with the vital needs of our community.”
For the full story, visit the San Diego Workforce Partnership website.