Everyday impact

Southern Smoke exists to take care of our own.

As a nonprofit founded and powered by current and past F&B workers, we’ve felt the heat of our industry firsthand. Our efforts are dedicated to creating a meaningful safety net of support that doesn’t exist for most people in our world.

Covering necessary costs

According to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, less than 15% of F&B workers had healthcare coverage before the pandemic. Many live shift to shift and have to make impossible choices about paying for housing, groceries, and medical care. We help cover the cost of these essentials, and more.

Addressing mental health

We offer accessibility of mental health services to F+B workers across the country through a university affiliate program providing no-cost counseling to workers and their children in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, New York, and California. Those who live outside of the service states can apply for financial assistance for mental health crises through our Emergency Relief Fund.


Extending aid to family

More than 55% of Southern Smoke grant recipients have at least one minor child at home. One-third have at least two. The majority of these recipients are single parents who receive zero child or marital support, and come to us on behalf of their family to help cover basic costs.

Expanding our Expertise

When situations and regulations change, we adapt. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve tracked eviction moratoriums in every state, acquired knowledge about legal aid organizations, and have become fluent in financial statements. No matter where an applicant lives in America, we can help in some way.

Here are just a few ways the goodwill of many have helped improve the lives of others.
“This organization hands down is everything. They spend their everyday lives working to help others. I am one of those "others." They have saved me from a lot since I was furloughed from my job. I never expected someone or some place to help me the way they did. I am truly thankful. This is what life should be about, helping and loving one another. Thank you.”
Lexington, NC
“The grant I received from Southern Smoke was a beacon of hope. I was so scared, I was on the internet day and night, researching whatever I could find out about grants and loans. Southern Smoke was the very first one who emailed and said, 'We will help you.' It stopped my breath for a minute, I had to read it over and over again. ”
Restaurant Owner
New Orleans, LA
“We were like family at Spaghetti Warehouse, from the customers to my co-workers. I was a waiter there and I was being trained to become a manager…The storm seemed like it came out of nowhere and it really destroyed that restaurant. There was no way it was opening any time soon…I got kicked out of my apartment about two weeks after the storm because I couldn’t pay the rent. I heard about Southern Smoke from my mom and she said they were helping out people in the food and beverage industry…To get this money, it’s just incredible. It gives me my independence back, helps me provide for my three girls a little better. It gets me back on my feet and that means a lot…I love the restaurant business, it’s what I’ve done most of my adult life and I want to get back into it. You get the chance to make other people’s day better. That’s a great feeling.”
Houston, TX
“I just want to say thank you so much. I am literally in tears right now. I was so afraid, particularly about my rent. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was scared I'd be homeless. I've let my Landlord know I'll be able to pay him in total. I'll also be able to get my phone back on. I'll be able to buy groceries. I am so grateful. I thank God for your organization.”
Chicago, IL
“Just wanted to take a moment to encourage my industry friends to apply to the #SouthernSmoke foundation if you’re in need of financial assistance. I just received an email that I will be receiving a grant! They truly have lifted a weight off of my shoulders, and I hope that this post can help fellow industry members that may be struggling. It’s a long application process, but it’s totally worth it!”
Chicago, IL
“Gracias por su ayuda y sobre todo por ser tan profesional porque usted me hizo sentir importante y sobre todo me dió la oportunidad de interactuar con usted no limitó mi sentir. Me sentí muy confortable y tuve confianza en usted, es por eso que pude mandarle todo los documentos que me pidió, porque cuando siento que no es amable o paciente me pongo nerviosa y me paralizo haciendo que no pueda encontrar nada de lo que necesitaba para enviarle. De verdad fue un gusto comunicarme con usted y sea el resultado que sea que tomen usted ya me dio el estímulo más valioso de una persona que muy pocos tienen y me siento agradecida por haberla tratado. Siga así nunca cambie. Dios le bendiga.”
Chicago, IL
“We pretty much lost everything on our 500 acres with the hurricane. We estimate our total loss at about $400,000. It really devastated us. But the money that we received from Southern Smoke allows us to buy more seeds, replant and restart. We’re very grateful.”
Wharton, TX
“It's all a bit overwhelming and incredibly touching. Honestly, I'm at a loss for words. It's so wonderful of him. Not everybody has a friend who could pull off something this amazing. Chris doesn't think small.”
Antonio Gianola
Southern Smoke Honoree and Inspiration
“You have no idea how ELATED I am to receive this news!! I really appreciate you and all of your partners and the donors of Southern Smoke, and a special shoutout to Alison for working with me on my case and being super patient while I gathered all of the necessary information. If there is anything I can do to pay it forward to your organization now or in the future, please let me know. I am currently looking around at my apartment, and my 4 year old son, and feel a sense of relief. We are going to be OKAY. And I hope the same for the future of myself and my fellow service industry workers.”
Metairie, LA
“Working with the community clinic has changed my life drastically. The scheduling is convenient, so that I can easily commit to my betterment program. I feel like I’m receiving a thorough and attentive evaluation and that I’ve been able to reach my goals so much faster with this program. I’ve made personal progress in my sobriety, and relationship progress with boundaries and healthier communication. I received a professional diagnosis that led to a more customized therapy plan. I plan to be in therapy as long as the program is provided as I care very much about making a better future. Thank you for giving me a chance and thank you for changing my life path.”
Houston, TX
“I am deeply grateful and in tears. My heart is full. I don't know how to explain this feeling I’ve never felt before. I’ve never been helped like this before then again I’ve never been in this situation. I feel like I can breathe again. Southern Smoke has given me hope and helped me when I need help the most. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! I have so much I want to say how thankful, grateful and blessed I feel. This is a very emotional moment for me and I’m at loss for words. God bless you and everyone at Southern Smoke Foundation for helping people like me. Please thank everyone there for me. I would hug all of you if I could.”
Restaurant Manager
Chicago, IL
“Y'all I can't begin to thank Southern Smoke enough for this! It was a lot of paperwork and panic. But this foundation just saved me and my littlest from being homeless NEXT WEEK as well as being able to continue supporting my middle daughter I have 1/2 the time whose dad is also a bartender/ server and out of work. My family is gonna be ok for the next month because of these awesome people and their sponsors. My little daughter and I literally cried tears of joy when I received this. THANK YOU SOUTHERN SMOKE! Not all heroes wear capes! (sometimes they wear aprons 😉)”
Sarasota, FL
“I am forever grateful to Southern Smoke for financially supporting my family during this dark time. Your support definitely gives us the energy to keep moving forward, and to keep fighting for the best future for Jeff! And I pray for the day I can share this amazing letter of support with my brother, to hold his hand and tell him just how much his restaurant family stood up and helped him on a path of recovery. AND my mother is just so relieved! THANK YOU- above and beyond. If I could insert 10 crying emojis I would. You guys are amazing and really do take care of your own!”
Chicago, IL