The Oddfellows kitchen in Bishop Arts was churning out 'family meals' on Monday afternoon. It's a restaurant industry tradition to feed employees a meal that Oddfellows started again Monday, despite the fact that they have a skeleton staff in the wake of COVID-19 layoffs.
"We know that we're in that critical gap where the money they might have saved is running out and the unemployment benefits and other hope that is coming for them hasn't quite kicked in," Oddfellows Co-Owner Amy Cowan said. "We just need to make sure nobody's going hungry."
Cowan put out a plea for donations on Sunday to help provide free 'family meals' to all service industry workers, not just Oddfellows' employees. She said within minutes the donations came in.
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"Well, I hope they feel loved," Cowan said through tears. "Probably the biggest burden on all us is we want to take care of our people."
"Trying to take care of our own right now," Oddfellows Head Chef David Rodriguez said as he prepared the boxed meals. "Hopefully things get better soon."
At 2:00 p.m. Penelope Frankenfield stepped up to the take-out counter of her former employer to order a latte and a free family meal.
"You just kinda have to stay positive for everybody," Frankenfield said with a smile. "Let them know we're all gonna get over this soon."
Oddfellows plans to offer free boxed 'family meals' every day at 2:00 p.m. to all laid-off service industry employees.