"Our association has been inundated with phone calls—the first calls were our members asking how they could help," says Rick Sampson, president, New York State Restaurant Association, Albany, N.Y. Members in New York City-area chapters started sending food into the WTC zone via the Red Cross to start feeding rescue workers at the scene. "Now we’re trying set up schedules with our members because we know it is going to be a long, long project to clean up the debris. We’re now working out who’s going to be feeding which day, and what meal—because they need breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s working well, but obviously it’s an ongoing isutation," says Sampson.
NYSRA also set up Restaurant Employees Disaster Fund for restaurant employees who are victims of the tragedy. "We felt we as an association should do something to take care of our own," says Sampson. "There were many people lost at Windows on the World, and lots of them were busboys, dishwashers—do you think they had life insurance? We feel compelled to lend support to those families who lost their loved ones," says Sampson.
Sampson says his association’s annual meeting, which had been scheduled for October 14 to 16 in Port Jefferson, N.Y., had to be cancelled because many members either lost their businesses or were closed due to cleanup work or a lack of customers. "We’re going to reschedule to give them time to get their own houses in order—probably for early November, which should give them some breathing room," he says.