San Antonio nonprofit expanding health services for local food and hospitality workers

Saint City Culinary Foundation founder Joel Rivas speaks to a group. - Courtesy photo / Saint City Culinary Foundation
Courtesy photo / Saint City Culinary Foundation
Saint City Culinary Foundation founder Joel Rivas speaks to a group.

San Antonio nonprofit the Saint City Culinary Foundation is expanding its mental-wellness program Heard by developing a comprehensive health program specifically for hospitality industry professionals.

Joel Rivas, founder of the Saint City and Heard, has been working with healthcare provider app Galileo for the past year on a partnership that will offer foodservice workers affordable, 24/7 access to telehealth services. Enrollment for the new program kicks off Friday.

“For years, I saw a need for people in the industry to have basic health care, addiction and mental health resources,” Rivas told the Current. “Working with people in the industry has always been closest to my heart, so it was a need that needed to be filled.“

Anxiety, depression and substance abuse are rampant throughout the foodservice industry in normal circumstances. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces more restaurant closures, Rivas worries those issues will worsen.

Many in the industry also lack health insurance or are unable to afford the health insurance offered by their employer. 

Through the newly launched Heard Health, foodservice industry workers will be able to make appointments with healthcare providers for basic screenings such as blood pressure or thyroid assessments. They'll also be able to consult with physicians when they need treatment for illnesses. 

“Going to an urgent care facility for an upper respiratory infection or urinary tract infection — a lot of times that’s part of their rent or half of their car payment,” Rivas said. “It shouldn’t come down to choosing between paying rent and getting an antibiotic.”

Heard Health will be available to San Antonio-area foodservice workers for a fee of $9 monthly or $99 annually. Members will have access to around-the-clock appointment booking services, from basic medical care to labs and blood panels.

App provider Galileo has negotiated rates with local labs and physicians, reducing some of their costs, according to Rivas. Heard also plans to partner with fitness providers such as gyms and yoga studios once pandemic-related distancing rules are lifted. 

“My vision has always been to provide our industry family with the resources to actually start living, not just surviving week to week,” Rivas said. “We’re tired of burying our friends, it’s hard on the soul. Taking steps to getting our industry family healthy starts with programs like this.”

To learn more about Heard and Heard Health, visit

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Nina Rangel

Nina Rangel uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. As the Food + Nightlife Editor for the San Antonio Current, she showcases her passion for the Alamo City’s culinary community by promoting local flavors, uncovering...

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