How Niman Ranch Is Stepping Up to Help Restaurants
Niman Ranch is sponsoring meals prepared by independent restaurants for first responders, frontline workers and communities in need.
“Our restaurant partners have always been there for the Niman Ranch farmer community, and now it’s our time to step up for them,” said Chris Oliviero, general manager of Niman Ranch, the Westminster, Colo.-based producer of natural meat.
Stepping up means that Niman Ranch — a community of more than 750 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise pigs, cattle and sheep traditionally, humanely and sustainably — has established the Niman Ranch Restaurant Relief Fund and pledged to distribute $80,000 to independent restaurants across the country this winter and spring. Niman Ranch said the fund will provide much needed financial resources to restaurants as many in the industry struggle to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With positive vaccine momentum, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but many restaurants simply won’t be able to hold on through the coming weeks and months without help,” Oliviero added. “We hope the fund provides a bit of relief during a very dark time.”
Citing a statistic from the National Restaurant Association, Niman Ranch said 17% of restaurants — more than 110,000 establishments — have already closed permanently since the start of the pandemic with thousands more on the brink.
Niman Ranch, which is owned by Perdue Farms, is distributing Relief Fund resources to an estimated 100 independent restaurants by:
- purchasing restaurant gift cards to be distributed to local community members and nonprofit organizations, providing guaranteed sales while also driving much needed new business; and
- sponsoring meals prepared by independent restaurants for first responders, frontline workers and communities in need.
Prior to establishing the Relief Fund, Niman Ranch donated over 20,000 pounds of its Certified Humane product to more than 75 independent partner chefs across the country, serving an estimated 80,000 meals to neighbors in need.
Despite these efforts, Niman Ranch said much more is needed to save the independent restaurant sector and the 11 million people it employs.
“In the big picture, we know our relief fund is only a slim fraction of what’s needed for the restaurant industry to make it through this once in a lifetime event,” Oliviero said. “That’s why we are calling on Congress to support the RESTAURANTS Act to ensure restaurants receive the support needed to survive. Saving independent restaurants will save millions of jobs and support the farmers, ranchers, distributors and other vendors who rely on their business.”
Niman Ranch’s founding hog farmer, Paul Willis, recently authored an op-ed published in the Des Moines Register making the case for restaurant relief, discussing the impact mass restaurant closures would have on the farms that supply them.
“I saw a similar wave of closures happen among fellow independent farmers during the hog market crash in the 1990s,” wrote Willis. “Farming communities haven’t been the same since that crisis, and I worry the independent restaurant sector is facing a similar mass extinction event.”
People can learn more and take action to support restaurants by visiting the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s website at www.saverestaurants.com.