TRUCKSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Just one day after Governor Tom Wolf announced schools across Pennsylvania will close because of Coronavirus concerns, local restaurant owners are already springing to action to help feed students who will be left in need.
Owners tell Eyewitness News many worry about what will happen to children who depend on school lunches, so some area restaurants are trying to alleviate that stress by offering free lunches for children.
“A lot of these families didn’t have time to prepare. As of last week it was just an idea of something that may happen and then it happened quite quickly,” Mary Kilheeny, owner of Kava Korner in Trucksville, said.
All schools in Pennsylvania will be closed for at least the next two weeks in response to Coronavirus concerns. But schools are more than just a place of education. For many children, they’re a source of food. Kilheeney is a mother and understands that concern. That’s why she and her husband decided to offer free lunches for children at their restaurant.
“I honestly just hope that anybody that is in need isn’t afraid to reach out and ask for help. You know it’s not something we’re looking to do for one time. If they need for a week, two weeks, three weeks, that’s something we’re looking to sustain as well,” Kilheeney said.
Kilheeney says they have a kids menu ready, and are working out a plan for delivering food as well. She says it’s a way to give back to the community during this time of uncertainty.
“The community has given us a lot here. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them,” Kilheeney said.
Jackie Doherty, owner of Pizza Bella Mountain Top, says her restaurant will offer free lunches to children, and to anyone in need, in the Crestwood School District. She says she’s had an outpouring of support locally and even from abroad.
“We actually had a message from a woman today who’s in Korea that is going to call me Monday afternoon, that she saw it on Facebook, and wants to buy a few pizzas for anyone needing them,” Doherty said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education will also allow schools that have 50 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced lunches to serve food despite the closing of schools.
“I think during this critical time, the reason why it’s so important is we don’t want anyone to be hungry. You know we all want to take care of people in our community, especially the children,” Doherty said.
For those interested in getting free lunches, you can contact the restaurants through their social media pages or by phone.
Restaurants offering free lunches:
Kava Korner, Trucksville
Pizza Bella, Mountain Top
Acme Barbeque and Catering Company, Williamsport
Purple Pepper Deli, Scranton