JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Jonesboro restaurants are coming together to spread a little kindness to their community, after the recent tornado and COVID-19 outbreak by offering free meals to those who need it.
The only thing community members have to do is to drive to those eight restaurants and tell them the number of boxes they need.
One woman in line Tuesday said supporting local businesses and people is what really matters.
“You don’t think about local. You only think about the bigger chain. But, the local is what keeps us going," Shellie Dhane said.
Jonesboro resident James Bickham originally planned to help feed families impacted by the coronavirus outbreak after a woman reached out to him wanting to help families in need.
“The goal was to give it back to the community and to give it back to our local restaurants," Bickham said.
Bickham had turned to social media before the March 28 tornado, taking donations through an online concert to pay for pizzas to give to families in need.
The fundraiser quickly passed its goal of 40 pizzas to 150 pizzas.
Now, it’s grown into eight days of free meals from locally-owned restaurants, thanks to donations from community members. In the first two days, all of the meals were given away in less than 30 minutes.
Bickham said two people donated a combined $7,000 to help make this possible and even more have followed suit and have brought the total amount to roughly 8,000.
“Prateek Gera and Jeff Morris, these two guys came out from nowhere,” said Bickham.
Lost Pizza Co. is one of more than eight restaurants participating in the free meals.
“I think things like this that is beneficial to the community and the restaurant industry is just so great because it’s meeting the needs of many people,” said Lost Pizza Co. owner Sarah McDaniel.
JTown’s Grill is another participating restaurant, and owner Jeffrey Higgins said helping the community during this difficult time is important.
“You’ve got to realize why you’re here, I mean if it weren’t for them [the customers] we wouldn’t be here in the first place,” said Higgins. “Anything that you can do even now in these times to help the community you know we want to be a part of it.”
Bickham said watching the community come together after so many hardships prove why Jonesboro is such a great place to live.
“I had somebody ask me how would I describe the last three weeks of Jonesboro and I used the word awesome,” said Bickham. “Awesome is the only way to tell people from the outside how our community has come together.”
Bickham said these meals are for those who could benefit the most from enjoying them and stressed that if you’re planning to pick one up to stay in your vehicle for safety reasons.
The restaurants participating are:
- Lost Pizza, offering large pizzas
- Red Beard’s Burger Barn, offering burger and fry meals
- Curry Leaf, offering chicken curry meals with desserts
- JTown’s Grill, offering wings and fries or chicken strips
- Fat City, offering Sirloin Tips and baked potatoes
- YesDog Grill, offering BBQ sandwich meals
- Chuck E Cheese, offering large pizzas
- Casa Maya, offering enchilada meals
Abby Cakes will also be offering desserts, and Zaxby’s is donating 500 lunches that will be distributed around town.
In total, around 1,200 people will be fed next week, thanks to the donations from the community. Money collected through tips will be used to purchase gift cards for families in need.
There’s even a GoFundMe to help tornado victims.
For that information, specific times and days the meals will be available, click here.