Customer Story: The Giving Kitchen

Heroes with aprons instead of capes

Guidance, security, sanctuary, community, and a fighting chance. Serving those who serve us, the Giving Kitchen chose SurveyMonkey Apply to collect and review applications for grants that support restaurant workers faced with crisis.

The challenge

The Giving Kitchen was challenged with managing hundreds of applications for support, and needed a solution that reduced manual workload and enabled them to meet requests quickly and with compassion.

The solution

With a streamlined, online process for grant requests, the Giving Kitchen has been able to efficiently collect hundreds of applications, make faster decisions, and provide more immediate support.

The takeaway

The Giving Kitchen is now able to connect with restaurant workers quickly in their time of need, and with application intake working so well, they're able to take initiative to grow their programs.

“With SurveyMonkey Apply, we're able to collect more information than ever before on our applicants. Our team has grown since we started because now that application intake is working so well, we can take initiative to grow our programs.”

– Leah Melnick, Director of Programs

The Giving Kitchen grew from the story of Ryan and Jen Hidinger; beloved in the Atlanta restaurant community for their supper club and Ryan’s work as a chef. But when Ryan was met with a stage-four cancer diagnosis in 2012, time became a factor as they worked towards adjusting to a new lifestyle.

The community responded with overwhelming positivity, helping out with expenses and offering the family peace of mind during a time of crisis. The response during this difficult time set the stage and defined the underlying values of what was to come next; the Giving Kitchen.

Heroes with aprons instead of capes

Since 2013, the Giving Kitchen has provided emergency assistance to restaurant workers through financial support and a network of community resources. The Giving Kitchen meets crisis with compassion and aims to serve those who serve us through their Crisis Grant Program and SafetyNet Program. To date, over 1,000 assistance grants have been given and requests continue to double and triple from year to year.

“What do you do to celebrate birthdays and milestones in your life? You go out to eat. We are turning that around and serving the people who serve us every single day,” says Marketing and Communications Manager Amanda Newsom.

“They play a huge part in our lives that we don’t really think about, and we try to remind people of that.”

Too much manual work and time spent. Too many paper records

The Giving Kitchen was challenged with managing hundreds of incoming requests as their presence took off. Restaurant workers in the Atlanta area began expressing interest in the programs offered and a need for support, and the team was committed to responding to every request quickly and compassionately.

In 2016, the Giving Kitchen started using SurveyMonkey Apply to help manage the influx of incoming applications. Having a system in place to streamline intake and review of applications, while still maintaining a personal and compassionate feel, was important to the continued success of their programs.

Before moving online, our filing cabinets were full of records. It was starting to get really confusing. The backtracking, compiling data; it was getting more and more difficult to organize everything and we really needed everything to be in one place.

– Leah Melnick, Director of Programs

A seamless online process for support requests

For the Giving Kitchen, advancing their mission means connecting with restaurant workers quickly in their time of need, and providing service to qualified applicants looking for financial assistance. To do this, they need tools that make their programs run smoothly and efficiently.

Hundreds of applications are collected each year through SurveyMonkey Apply and shared with members of the Giving Kitchen team. This process requires collecting detailed information on the story and circumstance of each restaurant worker, to allow for quick decision and immediate support to those awarded.

Over the years, program staff have been added to keep up with incoming requests, and application numbers continue to grow as the Giving Kitchen’s reach expands.

“We are able to collect more information than ever before on our applicants,” says Leah. “Our team has grown since the onset of SurveyMonkey Apply because now that application intake is working so well, we can take initiative to grow our programs.”

Immediate support during an unthinkable disaster

Over the last two years, the Giving Kitchen has been juggling incoming applications and surpassing expected numbers as interest in their program continues to increase. Hiring more program staff and investing in an online application tool helped them manage the increasing workload, but nothing could prepare them for the natural disaster that came in August of 2017.

Hurricane Irma came suddenly in the fall, damaging everything in its path and hitting the East Coast harder than ever. Irma was marked as the most intense hurricane to strike the continental United States in 12 years; wiping out houses and restaurants in its wake and leaving families stranded.

After the dust settled, the Giving Kitchen decided to expand their grant program as quickly as possible, in an effort to help a greater number of people throughout the state of Georgia until the damage was cleared. They needed to ensure that the platform was ready and open to accepting applications as soon as possible, so that families could start the process of receiving aid in life threatening circumstances.

“When I called SurveyMonkey Apply and told them what I was trying to do, they not only facilitated it and provided onboarding support in less than 24 hours, they also waived any of the costs that would normally have been there, to ensure they could help support those people in need,” says Leah.

Over one weekend, we opened up this application and in the end, we were able to support over 130 applicants who were severely devastated when Hurricane Irma hit. Having SurveyMonkey Apply as our first point of contact for a situation like this was pretty miraculous, and it allowed us to do something we never thought would be possible in such an unexpected emergency.

– Leah Melnick, Director of Programs

Our shift starts when yours can’t

For the Giving Kitchen, these have been words to live by.

This past year, the Giving Kitchen served their 1,000th grantee; a big milestone in a short period of time, for a thriving organization fueled by passion and service. The Giving Kitchen is adding even more initiatives to their calendar in the coming months, including the Hidi’s Heroes Program; a way for volunteers to get involved in a more meaningful way and support applicants.

Doing what they can to reach as many people in the restaurant industry as possible, the Giving Kitchen will take this year to continue working towards their goal of serving the entire state of Georgia by 2020.

“What we are realizing is how large the restaurant industry really is. It has the biggest majority of employees when you compare it to any other industry. Not only locally, but nationwide,” says Leah.

“It’s shown me that I have actually been a part of this restaurant community my entire life, and the reason they run into so much trouble is because of how underserved they are. That’s where we come in.”

Through an ever-expanding community of support for restaurant workers in Atlanta came an organization set out to serve the most underserved population in the community. The pressure builds as financial assistance becomes necessary for more and more restaurant workers, but the fight from within continues to push forward.

“We came up with this catch phrase of our shift starts when yours can’t, and we really want to stay true to that, no matter who it is. We want to be there and we want to be that beacon, that lighthouse for this industry and I know we will, as we move forward.

– Leah Melnick, Director of Programs

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