Local restaurants offering free meals to students impacted by school closings

by Shawn Nowlin

In the wake of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Governor Ralph Northam has closed all schools in the Commonwealth for the remainder of the school year.

Roughly 17,000 students are registered in both Roanoke and Salem alone–not including County.

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 (CFJH) – are currently offering free meals to those in need.

Over a dozen options are available on the Jerk House menu, that 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.”

“I was raised by a single parent and witnessed the struggles that came with that first hand, he continued. 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.”

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.