Supporting Philly food during the pandemic: Buy a T-shirt, eat to win a gift card, help workers via ‘tip jar.’

The pandemic hasn’t been easy on people, but instead of sitting on the sidelines, some others have initiated fund-raising campaigns geared towards helping others in need.

We take a look at three such campaigns related to the restaurant (food) industry.

The first is a campaign to help feed hungry families through the sales of T-shirts. Restaurateurs, Rob and Maggie Wasserman teaming up with city Deputy Managing Director Joanna Otero-Cruz and Marcello Giordano of Giordano Garden Groceries are the forces behind this Buy a T-shirt, feed a family campaign.

The idea is to give a produce box to a family for each “We are Philly” T-Shirt that is sold. The produce box is valued at $18, taken from the payment for the T-shirts, which cost $25 apiece and distributed through the official food-distribution sites of the city. The contents of each box are a loaf of sliced bread, three pounds of bananas, a dozen eggs, a head of iceberg lettuce, two lemons, four potatoes, one cucumber, two tomatoes, and a half-gallon of milk.

According to Rob, owners of Audrey Claire, Twenty Manning Grill, Rouge, and a partner at Snap Custom Pizza, they expect to give out 500 boxes weekly. They had, after three weeks of commencing the program, given out 3,619 boxes from the sales of 3,429 T-shirts and 190 box donations. Of these, the first 1,100 boxes were received by families on June 10. Rob is also the founder of the Philadelphia Burger Brawl.

You can order the shirts which come in 4 colors (blue, green, red, and orange) via The Philadelphia sports team inspired the choice of colors.

The second is the initiative of the Philly ad agency, Think Traffic. The idea is to ensure that restaurants in different neighborhoods get as much business as possible by driving that business to them.

It’s a simple idea implemented through Instagram. All it needs is for people in those neighborhoods to select any restaurant from a list they provided, order takeouts, gift cards, delivery, or merch worth $15 or more. The buyer is to then forward the receipt via email or direct-message to Think-Traffic, who will select five winners to each receive a $100 gift card to any of their favorite restaurants. While the campaign is on, each purchase counts as a single entry.

According to Kate Talamo of Think-Traffic, the goal is to give out $5000 to winners, in gift cards.

The third and final campaign we will look at is one started one of Tria’s bartenders, Michelle Cudia. The idea behind the campaign, which began in March, is for a virtual tip jar for restaurant workers.

Here’s how it works: Industry workers are to sign up on a Google form, leaving information such as names, restaurants, and Venmo or PayPal address. People donating then visit the Virtual Tip Jar’s spreadsheet where they can search for a worker’s name or a restaurant and leave their “tips.”

She even made it possible for donors to add to a tip pool by turning her Venmo into a collection point. There have been four distributions as of this writing. While the pool hasn’t been much, all 1,700 workers on the list received a few bucks. Because the tips are private transactions, they are directed to the recipients, so Cudia doesn’t ever see them.

She said she was inspired by a bartender based in Washington, D.C, whom she met at Speed Rack, a bartending competition for women. Several people on the list have reached out to her and ask that the tips they received to be put back in the pool because they were given unemployment benefits. The fact they ever got the tip has brought gratification to Cudia, who is currently easing back to work.

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