A difficult year in NOLA ends on a heartening note, with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation announcing that they have awarded over $240,000 in grants for local and regional nonprofits that are working to enrich their communities.
"Our grant recipients this December have stepped up to meet increased and evolving needs, even as they faced reduced revenue," said Foundation President Brian Kish.
11 beneficiaries are SPROUT NOLA,
Cafe Hope, Emerald Coast Children's
Advocacy Center (ECCAC), Louisiana
Restaurant Association's Education Foundation, Youth Empowerment Project (YEP),
Southern Smoke Foundation, Louisiana
Hospitality Foundation, Aaron
Sanchez Scholarship Fund, Sonoma County Vintners
Foundation, The Ecology Center, and Edible Education Experience. All 11
nonprofit beneficiaries are firmly rooted in giving back to the people,
culture, and places we love. Many of them are based in New Orleans and
identifiable here by hyperlink.
Additional emergency funds were awarded to hospitality industry workers, and the need for such grants is paramount. In a city like New Orleans that is renowned for its hospitality, the economic impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry turned advantage into weakness. Restaurants, bars, and other businesses were hard hit by this year of shutdowns, limited seating, a dramatic decrease in tourism, and locals both impacted financially and staying home to curb the spread. Those factors compounded in the tangible form of financial hardship for the industry, which, even in the best of times, already operates on slim margins. Grants like this for hospitality workers are sorely needed by many who have personally felt the toll of Congress's delay.
Behind the namesake foundation is Emeril Lagasse. Emeril's Restaurant in New Orleans's Warehouse District opened in 1990. Earlier this year, Emeril's was one of 100 restaurants worldwide to receive the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. Like many other celebrated eateries in the city, their flagship location remains temporarily closed.
Emeril Lagasse is known in the food world as the inventor of the "New New Orleans" style of Creole and Cajun cuisine and is a celebrity chef and James Beard Award recipient. Culturally, he has become the rare man given the honor of becoming a Simpsons cartoon character. Online, he continues to be further immortalized in memes that show him sprinkling hot sauce on a plate while saying his catchphrases, "Kick it up a notch!" or "BAM!"
In 2002, Lagasse founded the Foundation with his wife Alden. Since then, The Emeril Lagasse Foundation has granted over $14 million to organizations that line up with their mission to "create opportunities to inspire, mentor, and enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition, and arts education."
For the recipients of the grants, along with the news of the award comes the perk of exposure. New Orleans makes it easy to give back. Most of the local organizations offer volunteer opportunities (COVID-pending), as well as other ways to join or contribute. Since many of the missions involve food and nutrition, they offer a truly delicious way to become an involved community member.
For more information, go to emeril.org