All it takes is a stroll through most neighborhoods or town centers to see that the coronavirus has taken a toll on small businesses, and restaurants in particular have been hit hard. As many as 85% of independent restaurants may close for good, according to a report commissioned by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. The stakes are highest for Black-owned businesses, who’ve been hurt significantly by the pandemic: 41% of Black-owned businesses have already been shuttered by COVID-19, as have 17% of white-owned businesses, according to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A range of complex factors contribute to this disparity. For one, only 12% of Black (as well as Hispanic) business owners polled between April 30 and May 12 received the federal stimulus funding they had requested.
Recognizing the pressing need to show up for this community, Discover has committed to donating $5 million to Black-owned restaurants through their #EatItForward campaign, which calls for people across the country to nominate their favorite Black-owned restaurants via social media for a chance for the restaurant to receive $25,000. “COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses across the United States, and we want to help effect positive change by offering financial support to Black-owned restaurants, a segment of the economy that has been disproportionately impacted during this pandemic,” says Julie Loeger, Discover Executive Vice President and President of U.S. Cards.
It’s easy for anyone to participate in the #EatItForward campaign and celebrate the restaurants that are a cornerstone in your community. Here’s how:
On Twitter: Tag the restaurant and @Discover and use hashtags #EatItForward and #Sweepstakes in your post.
On Instagram: Post a photo and tag the restaurant and @Discover and use hashtags #EatItForward and #Sweepstakes.
On Facebook: Leave a comment with the name of the restaurant on posts on the Discover page that asks for nominations for the #EatItForward program.
To learn more, see additional information below or go to www.Discover.com/EatItForward.
Along the same lines of this campaign initiated by Discover, individuals are getting creative — and making a huge impact. Early in the pandemic, food blogger Anela Malik created a directory of Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia (D.M.V.) area to guide consumers on where to dine if they want to support Black-owned businesses. Her grassroots initiative, which lives on her popular food blog FeedTheMalik.com, “has definitely reinforced to me that individuals can make a difference,” Malik tells Thrive Global.
Dorissa White, the founder of BuyBlack30, a viral challenge for consumers to spend money only at Black-owned businesses for an entire month, also believes in the collective power of individual action. Her project taught her that “we are all parts of an intricate system, and we need each moving part: We need the protestors, we need the people supporting Black-owned businesses, we need the allies,” White tells Thrive Global.
Read on for some additional ways you can make a difference:
Dine at (or order takeout from) Black-owned restaurants
One way to support Black-owned restaurants, of course, is to dine at them. If you’re not comfortable with outdoor/indoor seating options yet, consider ordering takeout. You may be wondering, however: How do I know if a restaurant is Black-owned? Over the past several months, there have been ample resources (like Malik’s!) created by foodies, activists, and people just wanting to help out. Here’s a great resource from Vice, which aggregates Black-owned restaurant lists by most major cities in the U.S., and another from Grub Street, which includes links to food organizations that uplift and support Black-led initiatives and communities.
Spread the love via social media
Malik recommends not only dining at these restaurants — but documenting your experience, too. “One of the best ways to support Black-owned restaurants is by taking high-quality photos of your food and sharing your experiences on Yelp and Google,” she told Thrive Global. “Many Black-owned businesses don’t have representation by P.R. firms or the space/budget for photography or a concerted digital marketing effort. By sharing about our experiences widely and digitally, we can help make up for that.”
Amplify resources that support Black-owned businesses
Putting your money where your mouth is is a powerful way to support Black-owned restaurants — but if funds are tight and you don’t have much to spare, there are other effective ways to give back. Sharing resources on your own social media pages, like a link to this article or others that you’ve found to be helpful, can be just as important as donating. You can stay up to date with the BuyBlack30 challenge by following the initiative on Instagram, and Malik’s IG has a steady stream of tips to support Black-owned restaurants (not to mention drool-inducing food pics!). For something else immediately tangible, try this: If you’re not familiar with the 15 percent pledge, take note and sign the petition today. The pledge, created by Aurora James, the founder and designer of shoe and handbag brand Brother Vellies, calls for major retailers and food sellers to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, since Black people in the U.S. make up nearly 15% of the population.
No purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase chances of winning. Begins 12:00 AM ET on 7/6/20 & ends 11:59 PM ET on 10/31/20. Void where prohibited. For Official Rules, visitEatItForwardTerms.com. The Discover Eat It Forward Program is sponsored by Discover Products, Inc., 2500 Lake Cook Road, Riverwoods, IL 60015. Nomination portion of the Program is open to legal residents of the U.S., age of majority. Maximum 5 entries per social media platform. Winning restaurants must be at least 50% Black-owned, located in the U.S. and eligible as specified in the complete Official Rules. Prizes (200): $25,000, awarded in the form of a check to each winning restaurant. The total value of all prizes is $5,000,000. The odds of a restaurant winning a Prize in a random drawing will depend on the number of eligible entries received by the end of each Entry Period. Learn more at www.discover.com/eatitforward.