Local restaurants offering free meals to students impacted by school closings

Shawn Nowlin shawn.nowlin@ourvalley.org

Angelle’s is at 101 Wildwood Road.
Cheesesteak Factory & Jerk House is at 524 East 4th Street.

Because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Governor Ralph Northam has closed all schools in the Commonwealth from March 16 through at least March 27. Roughly 25,000 people live in the City of Salem, including approximately 4,000 students.

For many pupils, the school closures will impact their access to quality food. To help combat this reality, three Salem restaurants – Angelle’s Diner, Our Daily Bread Bakery and Cheesesteak Factory & Jerk House – are currently offering free meals to those in need.

Over a dozen options are available on the Jerk House menu, and they include veggie subs, hamburgers, oxtails, hotdogs, jerk chicken, brown stew, chicken strips, curry chicken and cheesesteaks. Parents do not have to purchase anything to get a free meal.

“We have been open for almost two years and the community has been great to us,” said owner Chauncey Savage.  “Growing up in Connecticut, I remember sometimes having to go to bed hungry due to a lack of food. I don’t want kids in Salem to endure that. Just tell us your name when you walk through the door and we will have a hot plate for you.”

When asked why he is providing free meals to children, Glenn Angelle, owner of Angelle’s Diner, said, “because we feel strongly about giving back to the community that we do business in.”

He continued, “I was raised by a single parent and witnessed the struggles that came with that first hand. I know there are local kids who share my upbringing, which is why I felt compelled to help the youth while they are unable to attend school.”

Lacey Banks, a single mother of two, is among the people who intend on taking advantage of Jerk House’s generous offer. “I don’t make a lot of money so every single penny makes a difference,” she said before adding, “everyone needs a safety net from time to time, and I’m thankful for all in the community who care.”

Sydney Ann, who has been a loyal customer of Our Daily Bread for years, was not surprised when she found out that the bakery will be giving out free meals to children while they are out of school. “They represent the best that Salem has to offer. Kind gestures like what Our Daily Bread is doing makes me proud to be a member of this community,” she said.

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