In the past couple of weeks, the United States has begun administering a record number of vaccinations in the battle against COVID-19. More than 10 million US residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine already, and with that comes free donuts.
Krispy Kreme just announced that guests will receive a free original glazed doughnut by simply bringing in their COVID-19 vaccination card to any participating location in the United States. This is available for anyone who shows their card, each day, through the end of 2021.
It’s that easy.
The brand is also giving its employees paid time off to schedule their own vaccinations.
Even if you belong to that group that doesn’t believe the vaccine will do anything. Isn’t a free dose at least worth some doughnuts?
“We’ve listened to all the advice, only to be shut down over and over again and not to be compensated… There’s no science that shows outdoor dining is unsafe! I’m not an asshole, [Governor Gavin Newsom] is.”
The above viral clip from Slapfish owner Andrew Gruel has resonated strongly with restaurant owners around the country. Gruel, whose seafood chain has locations nationwide, is echoing frustrations that governments aren’t doing enough to help restaurants while forcing many in the industry out of business.
Meanwhile, the industry is hurting at an unprecedented level. Data from the National Restaurant Association shows an estimated loss of $215 billion in the last eight months across the restaurant industry nationwide. Over 100,000 restaurants have already closed, and estimates figure that over a third of all restaurants could shut down by June without some sort of relief.
Shutting down small businesses right ahead of the holidays, with no relief, while the rulers break their own mandates is not going to end well.
Restaurants have been doing everything governments tell them to do for the most part. They’ve added capabilities for outdoor dining, spending thousands of dollars to do so. Chef Jason Quinn of Southern California’s esteemed Playground, for example, was paying thousands of dollars monthly for a heated tent setup that all got shutdown when outdoor dining was banned.
For many, they feel that banning outdoor dining is a step too far, especially when research has not definitively proven that it leads to a spike in coronavirus cases. Outdoor activities with social distancing are actually encouraged, such as walking in parks or camping, and the CDC does consider outdoor dining to be lower risk than indoor dining as well.
Of course, any form of activity where you come into near contact with others has some level of risk for transmission. The safest thing to do would be to shutter everything, but doing that requires stimulus money paid out to restaurants and businesses. Otherwise, they won’t be reopening once those hypothetical lockdowns end.
“All of this following rules is being predicated on being assisted by the government,” Quinn told Foodbeast.
From local to state to federal level, there has been minimal help for struggling restaurants. Outside of a potential meager stimulus package from the city of Los Angeles and the dimming hope of a restaurant bailout bill passing in Congress, there’s little funding out there to ensure restaurants have the ability to reopen after the current period of pandemic lockdowns.
Congress does have the legislation on hand to help out, with the RESTAURANTS Act potentially providing up to $120 billion in relief. While it has passed the House of Representatives, the Senate has fallen flat in helping out one of the most crucial industries in the country. The bill has yet to even be taken up in legislative sessions there.
Meanwhile, the latest round of bailout funding from Congress doesn’t funnel any money into the restaurant or hospitality industry, leaving owners struggling to survive.
Foodbeast has spoken to several restaurant owners since the latest shutdowns began. While some, including Slapfish, are keeping outdoor dining open, and some are sticking with the government lockdowns, all of them had the same message: Without funding and help, independent restaurants likely won’t last much longer.
“Over the last 10 years, food has become an important part of our culture,” Quinn said. “If we lose all of these small restaurants and just end up with Cheesecake Factories and f**king Arby’s and shit, then we’re gonna have lost a lot of really important work.”
“Even the aid has been manipulated in a way that … the majority goes to big guys, not small guys.”@damicheleusa owner Francesco Zimone speaking on the current restaurant environment and what the industry needs to survive. pic.twitter.com/2WEU1nyJRX
Regardless of whether governments should lock down restaurants or open up outdoor dining, they need to be funding restaurants at a level where they can survive, lest the “backbone of the American economy” collapses. They’re currently sitting on their hands and doing little to nothing, meaning that it’s up to us, regular people, through takeout orders and tips and whatever other ways we can support, to help keep these businesses going.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on, plenty of companies have created branded face masks as a way to promote their image.
This week, however, multiple companies took it a step further and added food scents to their face masks, adding concealed aromas that mimic some of our favorite foods.
Jack in the Box, for example, is promoting a new plant-based “Unchicken Sandwich” by distributing a chicken-scented face mask. The mask produces the scent of fried chicken, since the sandwich they’re making is supposed to be a substitute for poultry.
Those face masks will be distributed for free for those that can snag one on a special website on October 23rd.
The other company to make a scented face mask this week is Hormel, to promote their Black Label Bacon. Called “Breathable Bacon,” the face mask cloth contains the aroma of bacon inside of it so you can smell it whenever you’re wearing your mask.
Like Jack in the Box, Hormel is also giving these out for free on a special website. Hormel is also giving meals to Feeding America for every person that requests one of the face masks, up to 10,000 meals.
Having that much scent concentrated around your nose and mouth means you’ll be inundated with the aroma of whichever you choose. If that’s something you want to experience, it’s starting to see usage as a marketing tool for brands, meaning we’ll likely see more as the pandemic continues.
Although the coronavirus crusade continues, humanity has somehow managed to achieve some semblance of normalcy. The strength we exhibit during difficult times should be no surprise, there’s no match for our togetherness.
Much of this strength can be owed to those who work on the frontlines, day in and day out, risking their lives to ensure our health and safety. Commendably, we’ve done well expressing our thanks to essential works through billboards, commercials and community initiatives. One area that has received less consideration though, is the impact frontline work has had on their mental health. Imagine having to do your job in an atmosphere of uncertainty for months on end, all while being expected to maintain a semblance of strength.
To help bring more awareness and support to the mental health crisis frontline workers face, KIND is launching a multi-faceted project named KIND HEROES. A recent study by JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) found that over 50% of physicians working on the frontlines felt depressed. With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, and without sufficient support, continual trauma is likely.
The KIND HEROES initiative will donate 100% of proceeds to NAMI, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They plan to pledge a minimum donation of $25,000, matched by an additional $25,000 from The KIND Foundation that supports mental health programs for our true American heroes such as healthcare workers, first responders, military service members and veterans.
KIND HEROES was inspired by a survey conducted by The KIND Foundation’s Frontline Impact Project, a platform which directs donated resources to workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 and other natural disasters. Results revealed an increase in mental health challenges for essential workers, following PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), mental health resources were cited as the most important need.
You can show your support for our American heroes on October 6th, when the KIND HEROES bar releases online and at select retail stores.
One of the major concerns of the coronavirus pandemic is how to get kids the meals they would normally have at school. Some of this was accounted for through districts that have been giving free meals to all children under the age of 18, regardless of eligibility for the free and reduced lunch program.
This was achieved thanks to waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allowed all schools to serve free breakfast and lunch to children. Those waivers end on August 31st, at which point schools would have to start charging for meals and tracking meal debt for those unable to pay again.
However, as the pandemic rages on and the deadlines on those waivers fast approaching, there’s no sign that the government is going to renew or extend those waivers.
According to The Counter, lawmakers asked the USDA on August 14th to extend those regulatory waivers, which would allow schools to continue providing free breakfasts and lunches for students. In a letter dated August 20th, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue stated that he could not honor the request, saying that “the scope of this request is beyond what USDA currently has the authority to implement and would be closer to a universal school meals program which Congress has not authorized or funded.”
The initial waivers were funded by the Families First Coronavirus Act, one of the early rounds of funding passed by Congress. However, with current negotiations on any new stimulus packages at an impasse, it’s unclear whether any money will be made available to continue to allow kids to get those meals.
Perdue claims that there are “already opportunities… for children in need,” seemingly suggesting that charities and nonprofits could pick up for where schools had been providing before.
A perspective review paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, published in April 2020, suggests that interruptions of these programs to families in need could hamper households in both the short and long term, decreasing immunity (and increasing the risk to contract diseases) as well as decreasing health and academic performance of children in those households.
Unless the USDA reverses its decision by August 31st and decides to extend those waivers, meals will be distributed under the old free and reduced lunch standards once again. For those who have already been struggling during coronavirus, this could present an even bigger challenge.
If waivers are not extended, families would need to wait until Congress returns from recess and agrees on a coronavirus stimulus package to see if funding could be extended to allow those waivers, and free meals from schools, to continue.
UPDATE: On August 31st, the USDA moved to allow free meals from schools to continue through the end of 2020, as long as funding allows it.
As scientists have been scrambling for potential treatments and vaccines to combat against the COVID-19 pandemic, some have begun testing different unique foods that could play a role in disease prevention.
One food, kimchi, has shown in an early study to be a possible food that could help protect against COVID-19 when consumed.
The pre-printed study took a look at data of death rates from different countries and found that those that eat fermented vegetables, including fermented cabbage products, tended to have a lower death rate. The countries surveyed in this study were European ones, but authors noted that this could be similar for other countries with lots of fermented vegetables in their diets, which includes kimchi.
One could infer from these results that kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented cabbage products could help in protection against the disease as a result.
Scientifically, the theory behind this is that fermented vegetables like cabbages have high antioxidant activity, and can inhibit an entry point for coronavirus into the cells called the ACE-2 pathway. ACE-2 is a protein on the membranes of cells that some coronaviruses, including the one responsible for this outbreak, can enter the cell through.
Could eating more kimchi and other fermented cabbage products help prevent you from getting COVID-19? It’s possible, but this study was done to establish some possible hypotheses on how diets could affect the spread of the pandemic. That means that while the possibility is there, now is the time for massive epidemiological research to prove that it’s actually the case.
Walmart has added on to the growing list of retailers implementing face mask requirements for customers to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.
Starting on July 20th, all Walmart customers will need to be wearing a face mask to gain entry into stores to shop. Walmart will be deploying trained “Health Ambassadors” to remind guests of the new requirements.
At Walmart’s Costco-like subsidiary, Sam’s Club, complimentary masks will be available for members, who can also purchase face masks inside of the store.
Walmart has cited the CDC in their decision to add this policy, saying that “face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance.”
The new policy was announced the same day that Starbucks’ own face mask requirements are scheduled to take effect. It also comes shortly after CDC Director Robert Redfield stated that if everyone wore face masks and practiced social distancing, COVID-19 could be controlled within 1-2 months.
Starbucks just updated its policies for how the coffee chain plans to continue to serve customers through the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest additions is that the company will introduce a face mask requirement for all customers entering their stores.
The new policy, which goes into effect July 15th, marks a significant change of language from how Starbucks previously approached face masks. Previous language asked customers who came into stores to wear them, but did not require them to have one to gain entry.
Baristas have, and will continue, to wear facial coverings while in stores.
During a time when face masks have been questionably politicized, Starbucks is taking an informed stance on safety recommendations to help limit the spread of COVID-19 while folks are picking up coffee, beverages, and breakfast.
These changes also come as some states have begun to reopen both indoor and outdoor dining, with safety precautions, for customers. However, as COVID-19 cases have resurged across the United States, several areas have re-closed indoor dining operations.
For those who still object to wearing face masks but still want Starbucks, delivery, curbside pickup, and drive-thru orders are alternative options to going inside. This is only available, however, “at select locations where a local government mandate is not in place,” according to the new policy.