HEINZ Partners With The LEE Initiative to Help Preserve Black-Owned Restaurants’ Cultural Legacy

As a brand that’s been around for over 150 years, HEINZ recognizes the profound influence food can have on culture. America’s Black-owned restaurants are cultural treasures that have been instrumental in shaping the food and flavor we enjoy today. HEINZ is partnering with nonprofit restaurant equality organization The LEE Initiative and Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice (SRRJ) in a collective effort to preserve the legacy of Black-owned restaurants through a grant program and other resources to help sustain long-term business health and success. The partnership is about more than just saving restaurants; it’s about preserving Black culture today and into the future.

“It’s no secret HEINZ has celebrated the role food plays in our communities, especially in diners and restaurants, for as long as we’ve been around. But entrepreneurship is also in our brand DNA and has been one of H.J. Heinz’s core values since day one,” said Molly White, general manager and VP, Taste Elevation, Kraft Heinz. “Black-owned restaurants are critically important to communities across the country and we saw this as an opportunity to help ensure these businesses thrive for years to come. We’re proud to kick off a partnership with The LEE Initiative to help foster a more diverse and equitable restaurant industry as well as preserve the legacy of these restaurants, and we anticipate working closely together as we celebrate, honor and uplift culinary leaders in the Black community.”

The partnership will kick off with the distribution of 60 grants through SRRJ, a coalition of industry leaders doing the work to benefit Black-owned restaurants and communities. The grants are designed to help them prosper through financial support and a range of in-kind resources including:

  • Providing financial support of up to $20K per grant
  • Broadening restaurants’ reach through owner story spotlights via HEINZ-owned social media channels and paid publishing channel partners to generate awareness and drive traffic to their restaurants
  • Leveraging HEINZ employee resources and business expertise to further support the longevity of Black-owned restaurants and entrepreneurship, such as assistance, training and resources in human resources, finance, marketing and more

“Restaurants are in a perilous time and their struggles do not disappear because COVID restrictions are lifted,” said Chef Edward Lee, co-founder and creative director, The LEE Initiative. “Black-owned restaurants, especially traditional, family-owned ones, are especially at risk right now. We are excited to partner with HEINZ—an American classic—to identify and help preserve many of these incredible Black-owned restaurants that are also at the heart of the classic American dinner table.”

Until May 8, restaurant owners can apply here for a grant. Applications will be reviewed by SRRJ founders and a selection committee and will be evaluated on factors including a restaurant’s community involvement and plans for the grant money.

The grants offered through SRRJ are part of a purposeful, multiyear partnership between HEINZ and The LEE Initiative that will grow and evolve over time. This initiative also reflects the commitment Kraft Heinz and its brands, including HEINZ, have to demanding diversity and fully living the Company’s values.

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