There's a lot going on in the Houston food and drink scene during the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19. Some news to keep up with:

Chris Shepherd's Southern Smoke Foundation is leading the charge for restaurant and bar workers seeking assistance.

Southern Smoke updates

First, the Southern Smoke Foundation, which supports hospitality industry folks needing emergency assistance, is out in front of raising money to help people whose lives have been compromised because of COVID-19.

Some weekend developments: On Saturday, it announced that during the first week of new food-and-drink policies (bars closed, restaurants offering only pick-up, delivery, and drive-thru), it had received 1,898 applications for assistance. On Sunday, it announced that the Houston Texans Foundation had donated $50,000 to its fund.

Then on Monday, Southern Smoke announced that Tito's Handmade Vodka is sending a portion of a $1 million donation to the organization. (CORE, the USBG Foundation, and World Central Kitchen will also benefit from this donation.) 

Further, the Restaurant Workers Community Fund is reserving 50 percent of all funds raised for Southern Smoke.

“I’m so proud that organizations like the Houston Texans and companies like Tito’s—as well as all of the individuals who have donated to Southern Smoke—understand and value the work we’re doing,” Shepherd said.

Houston Shift Meal

This new organization is dedicated to getting meals to hospitality workers furloughed or laid off during the COVID-19 crisis. The meals are coming from local restaurants, who are getting supplies and ingredients via donations to the organization.

Current restaurant partners include Backstreet Cafe and Hugo's, Rosie Cannonball and Montrose Cheese & Wine, and B.B. Italia, among others. Sponsors include Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Hendrick's Gin, and MundoVino, among others. 

You can be a restaurant partner by clicking here. You can check out Houston Shift Meal offers (if you're someone needing a meal) by clicking here. And if you want to volunteer, click here.

Other efforts

If you're a food-and-drink worker needing a meal, head to MAD between 5–7 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday to get one from the BCN: Taste & Tradition and MAD team.

Order a hot chicken and cheese sandwich at The Rustic and they'll donate another to a hospital worker in town.