Mar 11, 2021

Prepaid Card Disbursements Help National Nonprofit Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) Meet COVID-Driven Upsurge in Demand

Agency turned to Blackhawk Network to create turnkey relief disbursement program to more effectively serve an influx of grant applicants

PLEASANTON, Calif. – March 11, 2021 – The impacts of COVID-19 have severely impacted U.S. food and beverage establishments and the employees who rely on them to survive. Many of these individuals have sustained long periods of unemployment, and those able to return to work have also endured additional risk and exposure to the virus. National nonprofit organization Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which provides support to families in the restaurant service industry that encounter an unexpected health crisis, injury, death or the loss of their home or workplace has responded to the large influx of pandemic claims by partnering with global payments provider Blackhawk Network to utilize prepaid cards for grant disbursements. The partnership enables CORE to handle the increased demand for relief without compromising its service levels.

“The emergence of COVID resulted in an inbound surge of new applicants from all over the country needing support for their families due to sickness or medical orders to quarantine,” said Sheila Bennett, executive director, CORE. “We went from five applications in a week to upwards of ten per day and had to pivot our program very quickly. Thanks to Blackhawk’s unique prepaid card fulfillment capabilities, we ramped up for this unprecedented demand in record time, avoiding unnecessary disbursement delays typically seen with more traditional options like store bought gift cards. We physically do not have to address envelopes and mail standard gift cards to our grantees and the efficiencies provided by Blackhawk in addition to reporting, allows us to have greater insights on grantee spend. Now, we can better manage the amount of funding we can get out the door, and our donors can better understand the impacts of their contributions.”

Word of the agency’s unique service offerings was spread by way of volunteer ambassadors using social media channels to tell friends and community members about the organization’s services during the height of the pandemic. As a result, the agency’s grant footprint expanded to all 50 states, with more than 540 families having been served by grants totaling nearly $1.5M. Nearly 50% of those disbursements were made via prepaid cards. CORE’s donor base also greatly expanded through the increase in visibility, enabling the organization to raise more than double its annual funding goal.

“We are committed to helping nonprofits like CORE deliver urgently needed assistance to the many individuals and families that have been so dramatically impacted by the pandemic— including those in the food and beverage industry,” said Jeff Haughton, SVP, Incentives, Corporate Development & Strategy of Blackhawk Network. “Our cards are a flexible and remarkably easy solution for nonprofits and government agencies because they are much faster to issue and deliver than paper checks, while providing recipients with convenience solutions to make purchases in store or online. They also provide people who are unbanked or underbanked access to a resource they can use whenever and wherever they need to.”

Since March of 2020, Blackhawk has delivered more than $250M via hundreds of thousands of prepaid and gift cards on behalf of nonprofits and government agencies for people impacted by COVID-19 across the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Visit for a full selection of prepaid and gift card options, including a variety of contactless employee rewards such as egifts and virtual prepaid cards.

About Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network delivers branded payment solutions through the prepaid products, technologies and network that connect brands and people. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. Serving 28 countries, we reliably execute security-minded solutions worldwide. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments. Learn more at

About Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE):

CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees), a national 501(c)3, is dedicated to serving food and beverage service employees with children when either the working parent or child is navigating through medical diagnosis, illness, injury, a death, or impacted by a natural disaster. Founded by food and beverage service industry veterans, CORE helps hospitality service employees with children bridge the financial gap when either the parent or child deals with a health crisis or natural disaster. Since 2013, the organization has grown into a nationally recognized non-profit that has helped close to 1,100 families in 49 states. For grant qualification, to apply or to refer a family for grant consideration, please visit To support food and beverage employees via a donation, please visit