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GNOF, Gayle Benson, McIlhenny Company announce $413k in round 1 of Louisiana Service & Hospitality Family Assistance Program grants

The 413 grants awarded have impacted over 1,238 individuals


Today, the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) announced $413,000 in grants from its Louisiana Service & Hospitality Family Assistance Program, an initiative to support low-income restaurant, hotel, and bar employees who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and who are working hard to support their dependent children and elderly parents.

The program, launched with resources from Mrs. Gayle Benson's Community Assistance Fund at GNOF and the McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco® brand pepper sauce, has attracted over 100 gifts to date. Recent donations include: $50,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, $50,000 from the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation, $25,000 from JP Morgan Chase, $25,000 from the Annenberg Foundation, and $15,000 from the Republic National Distributing Company.

"The Greater New Orleans Foundation prides itself on getting funds into the hands of people who need it the most during a crisis," said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. "This is one of the many ways we have been able to activate our Disaster Response & Restoration Strategy to help our generous partners help when the people in our community need it the most."

"As a result of COVID-19, I was recently laid off from both of my jobs working as a bartender," said Hilda Hood, a restaurant employee from Jefferson Parish. "My daughter, a 3 year old with nonverbal autism, also had to temporarily discontinue ABA therapy. Your donation means so much to us, and has helped us financially as I took a huge loss in income over the past 3 weeks. Thank you for your help during this difficult time."

"I applaud the tremendous efforts of the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) as we address the immediate needs for those in our community that not only serve our local residents but also the many visitors that come to this great city of ours," said Gayle Benson, Owner of the New Orleans Saints (NFL) and New Orleans Pelicans (NBA). "Through GNOF's work we are able to deliver these financial resources into the hands of those in need and it is our hope that they are able to somewhat help navigate these troubling times a bit easier."

To qualify, individuals applying must:

  • Have earned 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Have worked more than 32 hours per week in restaurants, bars, or hotels in the Greater New Orleans Foundation's 13-parish region prior to March 9, 2020
  • Have submitted a complete application which included: electronic copy of driver's license or government-issued ID; pay stubs for most recent 30 days; and copy of 2018 or 2019 federal tax return form 1040

The 413 grants awarded in this initial round from the Louisiana Service & Hospitality Family Assistance Program impacted over 1,238 individuals from the families of unemployed bar, hotel and restaurant workers. Of the recipients, 41 were employed at bars, 155 at hotels, and 217 at area restaurants with an average annual income of just $26,900 per year, raising between one and four children. This pandemic has adversely impacted working families in all communities. Round I grant recipients are residents of Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, and Washington Parishes.

"McIlhenny Company has a longstanding relationship with the hospitality industry, especially in the city of New Orleans. In this extraordinary time, it is our responsibility as a community business to support our friends and neighbors," said Harold G. Osborn, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company. "We are so grateful to the Greater New Orleans Foundation for helping to ensure that those who are most in need of our help get the resources they need.

"I want to express sincere gratitude to the Greater New Orleans Foundation and all their partners for the assistance given to me and my family," said Janice Hines, a restaurant employee from New Orleans. "It means so much to us in this time when we are so distressed and confused. Without your help, we would not have food and shelter. We hope that when we are back on our feet, we could support your foundation so you can continue to bless this nation. The support that you have given has let us realize the importance of giving another a helping hand."

"The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the wellness and wellbeing of people across Louisiana," said Michael Tipton, President of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation."The impacts of COVID-19 have ranged from direct health impacts to those of family economic impact and we are thankful for the leadership of the Greater New Orleans Foundation in stepping in to support families and neighborhoods who need help during this challenging time."

Review of applications for Round II Grants of the Louisiana Service & Hospitality Family Assistance Program is already underway and awards will be made by April 24, 2020.

To support this program's expansion, please donate to the Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund at the Greater New Orleans Foundation by visiting

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