Today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) gifted a $1 million grant to the Texas Restaurant Association’s TX Restaurant Relief Fund, an initiative of the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF). Established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the TX Restaurant Relief Fund provides immediate financial support to Texas’ independent restauranteurs and their employees.
This grant will be used to keep restaurant operations open and employees working, while also providing first responders across Texas with meals to show appreciation for all they are doing during this unprecedented crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an incredible challenge for restaurants. A critical component of the food supply chain, restaurants are the hearts of our communities and are in a fight for survival,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association and Education Foundation. “In times of crisis, restaurants are always there to support their communities and first responders; in this crisis, restaurants need the support of their communities now more than ever. This generous grant provides direct financial support for restaurants across Texas while allowing them to continue supporting first responders. I could not imagine a more significant win and I am incredibly thankful for the generosity and partnership of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.”
“We have a long history of supporting community organizations, and now, more than ever, it’s important to support the areas where our communities need it the most, which is why we established the Collaborative Grant Fund,” said Dr. Dan McCoy, president BCBSTX. “Through these grants, we are working to move resources to community-based organizations that are directly supporting local residents and families who are most impacted by the emerging health, economic, and social impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud the TX Restaurant Relief Fund and its effort to support independent restauranteurs and their employees.”
The TX Restaurant Relief Fund initiative of the TRAEF will be distributing the $1 million BCBSTX grant through two channels. The first will support independently owned restaurants who in turn will provide local area hospitals in their counties with individually packaged meals for staff working with COVID-19 patients. The second channel will be in partnership with Whataburger, a Texas-based company, and Chipotle. First responders in the fields of medicine, fire, and police will be invited to enjoy a complimentary combo meal or bowl of their choice from one of these leading restaurants, key brands in the Texas fast-casual restaurant sector, and phenomenal partners.
“First responders and health-care workers are always our heroes, but now more than ever, we are grateful as we see them working tirelessly on the front lines to ensure our communities are healthy and safe,” said Ed Nelson, Whataburger president. “Whataburger is humbled to partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and the Texas Restaurant Association to support these brave men and women with a warm meal and our sincere appreciation.”
In addition to providing more than 150,000 meals to first responders, the BCBSTX grant will provide support to more than 100 independently owned restaurants, 670 Whataburger, and more than 220 Chipotle stores across Texas.
“We’re grateful for the heroes working on the frontlines as well as in restaurants during this challenging time and applaud the efforts of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation for their generosity,” said Laurie Schalow, chief reputation officer, Chipotle Mexican Grill.
On Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO, and Joe Monastero, chief strategist and operations officer of the TRA and TRAEF, along with Dr. Dan McCoy of BCBSTX, Ed Nelson of Whataburger, and Diana Kloesel of Kloesel's Steakhouse and Bar in Moulton, Texas, will hold a virtual press conference to officially launch the grant and further highlight this program under the TX Restaurant Relief Fund initiative. Press may join the conference here.
About the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation
Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF) is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization focused on providing the necessary resources to help restaurateurs confront educational and labor challenges with the latest innovations in education, technology, and training. It is the workforce development arm of the TRA.
The Foundation’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to build and maintain a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management curriculum. Texas ProStart is currently in more than 150 Texas high schools, reaching more than 15,000 students annually. The Foundation has partnered with KidsFit to bring students real-world culinary experience and encourage restaurants to offer an expanded menu with options that are child-friendly yet healthy. In collaboration with Feeding Texas, the TRAEF is working to expand training preparation for a variety of populations to find a career in the restaurant industry.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) — the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas — is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 80,000 physicians and health care practitioners, and 500 hospitals to serve 6 million members in all 254 counties. BCBSTX is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country's largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christ, Texas. Today, the company in headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with more than 830 locations in 10 states and sales of more than $2 billion annually. Whataburger has 45,000 Family Members (employees) and more than 14 million customers who like to customize their Whataburger just the way they like it. Visit www.whataburger.com for more information.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) is cultivating a better world by serving responsibly sourced, classically-cooked, real food with wholesome ingredients without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Chipotle had over 2,600 restaurants as of December 31, 2019, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany and is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants. With more than 83,000 employees passionate about providing a great guest experience, Chipotle is a longtime leader and innovator in the food industry. Chipotle is committed to making its food more accessible to everyone while continuing to be a brand with a demonstrated purpose as it leads the way in digital, technology and sustainable business practices. Chipotle’s founder, Steve Ells, first opened Chipotle with a single restaurant in Denver, Colorado in 1993. For more information, visit WWW.CHIPOTLE.COM.