Ronit Batra, a high school senior at Monte Vista High School in Danville, California has taken up arms to help restaurant workers, who have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, get back on their feet.
He is passionate about empowering his community and contributing to society’s economic development. As an entrepreneur at heart with the core value of self-reliance, Batra believes that part of the American Dream is to achieve financial security.
As a foodie who enjoys eating out and exploring diverse cuisines, he was deeply anguished by the impact of COVID-19 on restaurant workers.
This led him to create Help SOAR (Save Our American Restaurant Workers), a non-profit organization that works with those impacted within the restaurant industry. He connected with like-minded peers in his area and around the country to assemble a team of volunteers, who believed in this cause.
“When I started my non-profit, Help SOAR, I knew I wanted to help the restaurant industry, but I didn’t truly understand the magnitude of the work we were doing until later on,” Ronit shared.
SOAR helps restaurant workers find new job opportunities, start their own home-based food businesses, and obtain cash relief.
The non-profit organization has launched a program seeking to help restaurant workers by educating them on local laws, licensing processes, and helping them get certification to operate a home-based food business. Furthermore, it helps them market their home-based food business through social media and by getting them into farmers markets and connected with shared kitchens, thus achieving financial stability rather than just rely on government stimulus. The Help SOAR Team guides them through the entire process of starting the operation – from the legal basics and policies to consider to marketing their food and finding customers.
The Help SOAR Team also helps laid-off and furloughed restaurant workers find new jobs and opportunities. They work one-on-one with restaurant workers to understand their situation. Then, its team members act as liaisons between restaurant workers and employers and get them placed in jobs.
To broaden their reach and impact, Ronit and team partnered with like-minded organizations like Another Round Another Rally, The COCO Fund, Southern Smoke, PilotLight Chefs, and others to provide grants and cash-relief to help restaurant workers make ends meet. The organization has also conducted fundraisers and partnered with local businesses in these activities.
Through all of their work, Ronit and the Help SOAR team have been able to help over 160 restaurant workers till date nationwide.
The organization has also provided a platform to elevate the voices of those within the restaurant industry by interviewing them and getting them to share their stories in video and written format on their website and social media.
“At Help SOAR, our impact is helping restaurant workers attain the financial stability and security they need to thrive, even in the toughest of times,” says Ronit. Working to achieve SOAR’s objectives made Batra realize that creating a social impact is so much more than simply raising and donating funds. “Creating a social impact is about empowering people and communities and making their livelihoods sustainable by providing tools and assistance, whether that be through financial support, training, or guidance,” Ronit says.
Recent reports have come out citing more restaurant workers are either furloughed or laid off amid the threat of the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19. The Census Bureau, for one, stated that sales at restaurants and bars increased 1.7% from June to July. That growth is slower than from May to June when sales increased 2.4%. A growing number of firms have put off return-to-work plans due to the Delta variant’s threat.
With this development, Ronit expressed commitment that SOAR would ramp up efforts to help those whose jobs have been impacted by the raging pandemic.
“While Help SOAR has already assisted hundreds of restaurant workers, the restaurant industry continues to get impacted and is already seeing cracks in recovery due to the Delta variant,” says Ronit.
Restaurant workers looking for help can fill out the form on our website. Those looking to join the Help SOAR team in its goal to make a difference can contact us on the Help SOAR website. Individuals can also send their donations, which will be used directly for the assistance of impacted restaurant workers.