U.S. food company HEINZ, The LEE Initiative and Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice (SRRJ) have all partnered together to reemphasize the cultural significance behind our country’s Black-owned restaurants.

The collective effort of all three organizations has culminated into a grant program and a slate of resources to help these Black-owned businesses maintain their thriving restaurants and preserve Black culture in America.

“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 at Kraft Heinz — said in a statement. “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.”

Black-owned restaurants experienced their own struggles amid the pandemic. Many have fought to stay afloat through the mask mandates and social distancing guidelines which is why HEINZ’s grant program is crucial to giving these businesses much-needed support.

“Restaurants are in a perilous time and their struggles do not disappear because COVID restrictions are lifted,” Chef Edward Lee — co-founder and creative director of The LEE Initiative — said in a statement. “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.”

This new initiative is reflective of the commitment Kraft Heinz and its brands, including HEINZ, have pledged that demand diversity within its company values.

According to HEINZ, the grants being offered through SRRJ will coincide with the multi-year partnership between HEINZ and The LEE Initiative, which is expected to expand and evolve over time.

The partnership will commence with the distribution of 60 grants total that will offer financial support as well as a range of different resources that include:

      • 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.

Now through May 8, restaurant owners can apply for the grant program. Applications will then be reviewed by SRRJ founders and a selection committee who will award each grant respectively.

For more information on how to apply for the HEINZ and the LEE Initiative grant program, click here.