( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Kevin Yu, Owner of Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya Restaurants in Chicago, Sets Up a GoFundMe to Help Feed Healthcare Workers Bento Lunches
ENSPIRED Contributor: Kyla Yates
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kevin Yu, owner of two Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya Restaurants in Chicago, has been setting an example for many other restaurants by providing meals to children and healthcare workers.
On March 18th, Kevin began offering free “take out lunches” from 11am-2pm for kids 18 and under during the weekdays from Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya. He was inspired after speaking with a customer the week prior who shared her concerns about job security, balancing work and childcare, and fears her child may become ill with the coronavirus.
“I wanted to shine some light and hope into Chicago,” explains Yu, “and remove a little burden off parents by ensuring that no kid will skip lunch due to schools being closed. Together, we can prevent one more kid going hungry.”
But Kevin didn’t stop there. With all the news of the long hours’ health workers were putting in to save people and help them get through the coronavirus, on April 1st he set up a GO FUND ME feeding healthcare workers Bento Lunches around the city. Bento lunches are $10 and come in vegetarian, pork chashu bento, and chicken karaage bento. Within the first 24 hours, Yu had 125 Bento lunches and by the end of the week, it totaled 350. Kizuki Ramen has been matching every amount and by May 1st, Kevin had donated over 1400 Bento lunches.
Kevin wants to continue this program as long as donations are coming in. His restaurants have lost 80% in revenue due to the stay at home order and he even cut his salary completely so that he could keep paying his team members. He’s not taken a day off since this pandemic started and also cooks and oversees the making of each Bento Lunch in order to ensure the highest quality for healthcare professionals. It’s taking a toll on his health as well as his family, but he feels taking care of his team and community is the necessary thing to do right now.