All restaurant, bar and coffee shop workers who are or were employed in Chicago (specifically, Cook County, Illinois) are encouraged to apply for need-based aid.

To qualify for this fund, you must have worked in the food and beverage industry for a minimum of 6 months and an average of 30 hours per week minimum. Every applicant must show proof of such employment, so please have paycheck stubs and/or W2s available. We are unable to make any exceptions.

For tips on how to apply and best advance your case, please click here.

This fund is specifically for restaurant, bar and coffee shop workers who are or were employed in Cook County, Illinois. If you work in other food and beverage roles, including farmers, distillery workers, wine makers, beverage delivery drivers, etc., or work outside of Cook County, you can apply to Southern Smoke’s national Emergency Relief Fund here.

If you have questions about the status of your application after you apply, please email unless you have already been assigned a caseworker. If your situation has escalated since you submitted your application, please email The application process is completely anonymous. Only Southern Smoke staff will see your application in its entirety.

The Southern Smoke staff is working around the clock to get aid to as many people possible. We are experiencing a massive influx of applications. Please be patient with us—we are doing everything we can to get to every applicant. If there is any abusive language or tone used with the staff, you will immediately become ineligible for funding.