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New campaign to reward restaurants for taking a stand on immigration, women’s rights

A new campaign wants to reward restaurants that take a stand on moral issues.

Restaurant Opportunities Center United is forming a partnership with online platform Spendrise, which helps people support businesses who make choices for social good, to give money to restaurants that have participated in national days of action such as Day Without A Woman and Day Without An Immigrant. It also supports restaurants that are on the list of Sanctuary Restaurants that express zero tolerance for sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

On Spendrise, people can buy gift cards or pledge to spend at restaurants that have joined the Sanctuary restaurant movement, a joint effort from ROC United and that urges restaurants to not allow discrimination in their establishments against people based on immigrant or refugee status, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. T

“As consumers who support livable wages and better work conditions for restaurant workers, we are proud to support restaurants with strong ethical standards via the Spendrise platform,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director of ROC United, in a statement. “We call on all diners to support businesses who support their values by utilizing Spendrise.”

The campaign is the latest in a series of efforts from restaurants in the Bay Area to show support for immigrants in the current political climate. Last month, Berkeley restaurant Comal announced its regular “taco bowl nights” on Mondays and Tuesdays, during which net proceeds from taco bowl sales were to be donated to the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a nonprofit that offers legal aid and support services to immigrants and refugees. In February, about 35 Bay Area coffee companies and cafes joined a weekend effort to raise funds for the ACLU in response to President Trump’s executive order.

Many restaurants and other food businesses, which depend on a largely immigrant workforce in the Bay Area, are concerned about Trump’s actions on immigration, including his promises to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S,. and his executive order to ban travel from certain Muslim-majority countries.

Several Bay Area restaurants have joined the Sanctuary restaurant list, including Cosecha, and chef Daniel Patterson’s Plum Bar and Locol in Oakland, and Tarpy’s Roadhouse in Monterey, among many others.

“Now more than ever, immigrant and workers’ rights are incredibly important issues to the nation and the restaurant community,” said Daniel Patterson in a statement emailed to this news organization in January, when the Sanctuary restaurant list was started. “All of the restaurants within (my restaurant group) stand behind the principles of Sanctuary Restaurants and are committed to supporting immigrant and worker rights as well as re-entry programs. We are always looking for opportunities to support these work forces.”

Some, like Oakland’s Farley’s Coffee, Chop Bar, Lungomare and Calavera also participated in last week’s Day Without A Woman effort by allowing employees to participate in the strike if they chose, and encouraging those who do work to wear red, the color associated with the movement.

The Spendrise platform makes it easier for customers to express their support for similar actions.

“Spendrise exists to give consumers power to leverage our dollars to create change,” said Spendrise founder Eric Shih. “We have pulled together a list of restaurants so consumers can easily choose to spend at restaurants that support their values.”

People interested in learning more about the Spendrise campaign can visit

Annie Sciacca
East Bay Times

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