San Antonio nonprofit honored by Bon Appetit magazine for mental health work with hospitality workers

Saint City Culinary Foundation and Heard have been recognized as one of the magazine's five Heads of the Table for 2022.

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's Saint City Culinary Foundation and its mental wellness program Heard have been recognized by Bon Appetit magazine as one of five Heads of the Table for 2022.

The honor is bestowed upon people and organizations that are making the food world more inclusive and uplifting.

Saint City Culinary Foundation founder Joel Rivas launched the nonprofit in 2017, using his background in restaurants, bars and healthcare business development to create a wellness program for people in the food and beverage industry — many of whom don't have access to traditional health insurance options.

“Our industry is full of workers who are wired givers, and chances are they are not filling their cup back up after hours of serving the public,” Rivas told Bon Appetit. “They make $2.13 an hour, plus tips, so they can’t afford therapy. A lot of people fill that with other things.”

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rivas and a small core staff began aggressively developing a comprehensive mental health arm of the nonprofit — known as Heard — specifically for hospitality industry professionals.

“I knew it was going to be rough ahead,” he said. “I knew I had to listen.”

In partnership with Capital Area Counseling, Heard is now providing mental health first aid classes to local individuals, restaurants and bars, helping train hospitality workers on how to identify and address mental health issues among their peers.

The group also is working to make affordable telehealth services available nationally by 2024.

More information on Heard and Heard Health are available online.

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About The Author

Nina Rangel

Nina 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. Her unique culinary background, both in the front and back of the house, supports genuine relationships with food and drink professionals, garnering honest and insightful...
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