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Nonprofit to pay $1,500 to Baltimore restaurants to make meals for laid-off hospitality workers

In the latest effort to keep Baltimore restaurants cooking during the pandemic, a local nonprofit is paying businesses $1,500 to prepare meals for laid-off hospitality workers.

The Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, a nonprofit founded this year amid the coronavirus outbreak in Maryland, announced that the “Feed the Industry” initiative will begin accepting applications from restaurants on the group’s website Wednesday.

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Founder Dave Seel called the project “win-win” for Baltimore’s restaurants and workers. Amid a rise in coronavirus cases and a ban on on-premise dining in the city, businesses are struggling to stay afloat and many workers have been laid off or seen hours cut. The plan is to “feed the industry with both capital and food,” Seel said.

Seel said businesses should plan to prepare a minimum of 50 meals for each payment received.

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Area car dealer MileOne Autogroup has committed $30,000 to finance the project, according to a news release. Seel said the nonprofit is seeking additional sponsors to broaden the project through the early months of 2021.

A few restaurants have already committed to cook meals, Seel said, including Sally O’s in Highlandtown and the Urban Burger Bar in Hampden’s Whitehall Market. Both restaurants opened this year.

“We’re just grateful for the opportunity to help out fellow industry workers and to be able to earn a little bit of extra income on top of the carryout that we’re already doing,” said Jesse Sandlin, owner of Sally O’s.

It’s not the first pandemic-era project to pay restaurants to prepare meals for people in need. Earlier this year, local businesses including Alma Cocina Latina joined the Restaurants for the People program to feed Baltimore’s needy. The effort from the World Central Kitchen, a relief group founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, served tens of thousands of meals in the area.

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