Rick Bayless partnered with US Foods help provide boxes of food for hospitality workers during coronavirus pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Roberto Avila has 80 employees across five restaurants in the western suburbs. He was downtown on Monday to feed many of them with 30 pound boxes of donated food assembled by Frontera Grill in partnership with US Foods.

"It is awesome, you know these guys you know help everybody helping all the community all the employees and everything this is really really good," said Avila, who is the owner of Altiro Latin Fusion Restaurant.

Each of the 400 boxes contain five pounds of ground beef, four chicken breaks, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, macaroni, eggs, bread and even butter. Each box is made possible by wholesaler US Foods, and a $250,000 anonymous grant to help the people in the hospitality industry.

"We rarely think about the fact that the people that are offering that to us are some of the most vulnerable people in out society. You take their paycheck away, and many of them are going to go hungry," said Rick Bayless, who owns Frontera Grill.

The boxes provide enough food to feed a family of four healthy lunches and dinners for three days.

"No matter what your ethnic background you can add your own touches of of spices and flavors to make it your own, but we are giving you the building blocks of a really really good meal," Bayless said.

Proponents say this effort sustains the food service supply chain. If federal assistance arrives soon in the form of forgivable small business loans, the industry will be able to keep staff on, the key to survival.

"The margins and restaurants are super super tiny," Bayless said. "If you have a big loan you could go out of business."

"The people, they have to work, you know, they have to make money," Avila said.

"We are not making money right now we are trying to survive in the restaurant business and even not pay the bills," he said.

The hope is to carry on this process two days a week for the next eight weeks or perhaps longer.
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