‘A slap in the face’: Court orders SBA to halt aid to restaurant owners of color, women | Food & Drink

But as applications poured in — more than 372,000, requesting two and a half times the available funds — it became clear that applicants in those priority groups might be the only ones to receive funds. White business owners launched three lawsuits, and all three courts ruled in their favor. 

Courts in Tennessee and Texas also issued injunctions ordering the SBA to cease distributing funds to applicants from the priority group and to continue processing non-priority applications. 

In an email sent to priority applicants last weekend, the agency said that in response to the court decisions, it had halted payment to 2,965 priority applicants who had already received approval but had not yet been paid. 

“SBA’s leadership is frustrated with this outcome and remains committed to doing everything we can to support disadvantaged businesses getting the help they need to recover from this historic pandemic,” read the email from the agency’s Office of Capital Access. 

Industry groups estimate that there are tens of thousands of priority applications that have not yet been processed, whose aid is now stalled too. 

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Christine Ameigh, right, owns Slide Gourmet Potato Chips and runs Christine’s Kitchens on East Washington Avenue, shown in this file photo from February 2020. Ameigh was approved in May for federal relief funds that have not arrived. 

Christine Ameigh runs Christine’s Kitchens, a food hub and incubator that, during the pandemic, became a lifeline for many hyperlocal, very small food businesses. On May 4, Ameigh sent her application for the $100,000 in relief funds she qualified for. Like Edari, she got positive news from the SBA, but the funds never came.