LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Mikayla Marcum said she was ready to go back to work after weeks of self-isolating when she found out Kentucky restaurants would need to close their indoor dining room in compliance with the state's latest COVID-19 restrictions.
"I'm definitely feeling some anxiety emotionally. Financially, I'm going to make it work," Marcum said.
The governor's executive order to close dining rooms went into effect on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. and lasts until Dec. 13.
As a result, Marcum said she's having to apply for unemployment insurance for the second time this year, with the hopes it will help keep her afloat until she can go back to working full-time.
"I'm like, 'Just breathe,' she said. "I definitely have a lot of anxiety running through me."
Marcum said she's looking at the bright side of things and trying to stay positive. However, money is tight, and she's having to be careful with her spending and make sacrifices, like many others in the service industry.
"Yes, I'm okay. I can pay rent and stay afloat," said Hannah Ferree, who works as a server at a local restaurant. "Do I get to go out and buy groceries for the whole week? No. I get to go buy groceries day by day as I have the money,"
Both Marcum and Ferree told LEX 18 they would be working "to-go" shifts to help make ends meet, but hours have been drastically reduced, and the pay is significantly less when working curbside rather than waitressing.
"It's not great, but it's also better than not having the money," Ferree said.
Like Ferree and Marcum, the needs of people in the food industry weigh heavy on Sarci Eldridge's mind.
It's why Eldridge created the "Adopt a Server" Facebook group.
"It was so [restaurant workers] could focus what income or unemployment they were getting on rent and bills and stuff like that," said Eldridge. "There are so many people that just want to help."
The social media page has gained more than 1,800 members in five days.
"My brain did not fathom how wide and expansive the need was," Eldridge said. "My heart has grown three sizes to watch people come together across the state of Kentucky, not arguing about stuff but genuinely wanting to help each other out."
People in the restaurant industry affected by the pandemic can post, "I'm up for adoption," alongside a link to an Amazon Wishlist with items that could help them get through the next few months. Some wishlists include things like gift cards to grocery stores, pet food, and baby formula.
"Safety is our top priority," said Eldridge. "We are not encouraging people to send money or meet in person."
If you would like to adopt a server or be adopted, you can find the Facebook group here.