AMES, Iowa – The foodservice industry has been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as schools, restaurants and other food-serving establishments remain closed. Many Iowa foodservice workers are facing tough financial choices and are unsure how to access community assistance and resources.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the foodservice industry across the country. In March, the leisure and service sectors lost 417,000 jobs and the job losses are expected to grow,” said Anirudh Naig, a food safety state specialist and associate professor in apparel, events and hospitality management at Iowa State University.
To help foodservice workers navigate this crisis, ISU Extension and Outreach’s family finance program specialists are providing one-on-one financial conversations. Cynthia Needles Fletcher, a professor and extension specialist in human development and family studies, said financial educators are available to talk about options for revising a budget, prioritizing bills, paying down debt and connecting Iowans with community resources to stretch reduced incomes.
“Financial challenges faced by foodservice workers may not be unique, but many are hourly workers who rely on the business to be open for them to receive wages,” Fletcher said.
“Our goal is to provide accurate information to help Iowans make decisions,” Fletcher said. “We are emphasizing research-based information, non-commercial information in an unbiased approach to help meet some of the real needs in Iowa.”
Any Iowan may connect with a family finance specialist by phone or email. The conversations are free and confidential. Fletcher says people are more vulnerable during times of crisis and can fall victim to scams or feel overwhelmed by the financial decisions they face.
“We want to empower foodservice workers and all Iowans to make informed decisions as a result of COVID-19. Many are facing unfamiliar personal financial circumstances and talking with one of our educators may make a big difference in sorting out where to start,” Fletcher said.
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