ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — People worried about running out of supplies during this COVID-19 outbreak continue to raid shelves for toilet paper and other items. Some in Northwest Arkansas are worried about other things…and other people.
When Nick Morgan, the owner of Jersey Mike’s and Marco’s Pizza restaurants throughout Northwest Arkansas, heard chatter about the outbreak possibly closing down schools, he knew he had to act.
“I was like, ‘you know what? I’ve got a lot of assets in these restaurants that we can leverage and help our community, as well,'” Morgan said.
The coronavirus has only shut down Central Arkansas public schools so far, but the possibility of closures in Northwest Arkansas puts certain students at risk. For many students, the only meals they eat come through their schools’ free-and-reduced-rate lunch programs.
“Very often, that’s the only meal they get during the day,” Morgan said. “We wanna make sure they’re still having something to eat.”
Morgan is the first of several restaurant owners who said they’ll let those kids eat free if school shuts down. JJ’s Grill, Wright’s Barbecue and CJ’s Burgers all followed suit.
“If you come in and you don’t have money for food, you’re gonna just come in, grab one of those vouchers, give it to us at the register, and your meal’s paid for,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he’s prepared to do this for as long as it takes. The only “bread” he’s concerned about holds the sandwiches together.
“Thirty days, sixty days, ninety days…we’re in it for the long haul,” Morgan said.
So, Morgan hopes to cut through the community’s fears by slicing some meat, feeding those who’re hungry and stepping up for our kids.
“You always look at those other people,” Morgan said. “You always look at them and see who you can help no matter what.”