RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The coronavirus outbreak has been hard for restaurant employees who have found their hours cut or out of a job altogether. Ardent Craft Ales is giving back to the foodservice workers who normally serve up their beer at Richmond’s many local eateries.

The brewery has started Ardent Helps food bank which provides free food for restaurant staff who have been laid-off, furloughed or have had their hours reduced because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A lot of people were very unexpectedly put out of work with no plan for unemployment,” said Tom Sullivan, Ardent’s co-founder.

Sullivan said he decided to start the foodbank after Pale Fire Brewing set up a popup food bank in partnership with Sysco in Harrisonburg. The food bank was such a success, Tim Bradey, Pale Fire’s general manager, reached out to Sullivan about starting one in Richmond.

“He didn’t even finish asking before we said yes,” Sullivan said.

“We’re really thankful for Tim (Brady,) Sysco and The Holli Fund for working with us, bringing us this opportunity to help restaurant workers in Richmond.”

Sysco is donating a variety of items, from bananas to yogurt. While the brewery only began taking orders last night, Sullivan said they’ve already received more than 70 orders.

Because of the immense demand, Sullivan said Ardent is looking for more food wholesalers and food supply businesses to donate. He said individuals who want to donate food should give it to Feed More or Feeding America.

“We are mainly interested in commercial donations — people who can provide by the pallet rather than food by the case,” he said.

Ardent is also redirecting monetary donations to The Holli Fund, which gives grants to restaurant workers.

Sullivan said his main goal is to provide support for the community’s food service workers and take a little bit of the edge off of this hard situation.

“We’re in for a tough couple months and I think every little bit helps,” he said. “We want to be there for those folks who’ve been there for us as we’ve grown in the Richmond community and we want to see them on the other side of all this.”

How to pick up food

You can place an online order here and pick it up at the brewery’s taproom on 3200 W. Leigh St. from 2-8 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday.

While the food bank is only open to restaurant industry workers, it’s not restricted to Richmond residents. All participants need to do to participate is show their most recent pay stub at pick up to confirm their eligibility.