In light of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, pandemic, many restaurants around the country have had to learn new ways to adapt to the new reality of social distancing and suffering from lost revenue from mandatory quarantine closures for indoor dining. Now, one Black chef is looking to give back to his hometown of Oakland by creating a hub to help other local Black-owned food businesses.
Food Network Chopped winner Rashad Armstead is the founder of the Black Food Collective, a hub to support local Black-owned restaurants in the East Oakland, California, area as a way to help struggling food entrepreneurs amid the public health crisis. The takeout spot has now transformed into a rotating pop-up space where people in the community can support local vendors.
“I don’t have an opportunity to go back to a job and get back to a normal routine,” he said according to MSN. “I have to do something that will pay off long-term because I’m at risk of my entire life going down the drain.” Armstead talks about dealing with several family members testing positive for the coronavirus in addition to losing most of his catering work he depended on. The ordeal caused him to rethink how he serves food to people with new safety measures in mind.
“I don’t want to be responsible for anybody getting sick or having to experience what I saw my baby brother go through,” he explained. After seeing others in the community face similar struggles, Armstead used the space as a way for the community to come together to support one another.
“We can keep speaking, we can keep marching, we can keep protesting, but until we control the way our dollar circulates in our community, no one is going to listen to us,” he added. “I’m going to show on a small scale what can happen when Black food businesses work together.”