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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz helps launch Plate Fund to help Washington restaurant workers

Workers can apply for a $500 grant through The Plate Fund.

SEATTLE — A new fund launched Monday designed to give immediate financial assistance to restaurant workers in King County.

The Plate Fund hopes to provide as many restaurant workers as possible with a payment of $500 as they await federal stimulus payments expected to be distributed in the coming weeks.

Unemployment numbers in Washington state spiked at the end of March with tens of thousands more people in the state filing new claims as non-essential businesses remain closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The job losses come as the state is under a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee that closed non-essential businesses.

The order is impacting roughly 5,000 restaurants in Seattle, resulting in workers being laid off or furloughed.

RELATED: What to know about applying for unemployment in Washington state during coronavirus pandemic

The Plate Fund estimates there are roughly 100,000 restaurant workers in Seattle are impacted.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz helped organize the Plate Fund.

The Schultz Family Foundation, along with dozens of Seattle restaurant owners, launched the fund with $4 million in initial seed funding.

With so many restaurant workers in the county, organizers hope to grow the fund and are accepting donations.

Restaurant workers in King County who have been financially impacted by all the closures can apply for the $500 grant. The fund said it will work to prioritize workers who need it most but hope to help anyone who applies and meets the criteria.  

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Applicants wills need to upload a pay stub after March 1, 2020, demonstrate that their gross income is no more than $62,000 per year and verify they have experienced a decrease in work hours of a loss of their job.

If eligible, applicants could receive grant funding 48 hours after completing the application.