With school being cancelled through at least April 30, many families who relied on free or reduced breakfast and lunch for their kids at school struggle to provide extra meals for their kids. In addition, many families are dealing with job lose or reduction of hours due to closure of non-essential businesses.
Central Ohio restaurants and businesses have stepped up to offer free lunch for kids with grab-and-go packed breakfasts or lunches. Note: offerings may change or be discontinued at any time, so please check links or contact the organization to ensure they are still participating.
Central Ohio restaurants with free lunch for kids
Piada Italian Street Food: FREE kids pasta with sauce, cheese and a fountain drink, Monday-Friday from 11 am – 1:00 pm to students through April 30. Students do not need to be present. Carry-out, online ordering, Grab & Go and delivery will remain open for your convenience. The Kids Free Lunch Program will not be impacted by this and can be ordered to-go when you visit us in-store.
Tim Hortons: UPDATED OFFER – Free breakfast for all kids ages 15 and under. Breakfast includes English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich (sausage, egg, and cheese OR egg and cheese), 2 timbits, and juice. Offer available Monday-Friday from 7am-9am, from April 6th through May 1st. One free meal per child. Child must be present. No purchase necessary; no substitutions. See locations listed on website.
Legacy Smokehouse in Hilliard: Free lunches for kids on Tuesday – Friday from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. Lunch includes a pulled pork slider or turkey hotdog, applesauce, and drink. No purchase necessary. They are open for dinner only starting at 4 pm Tuesday-Friday (12-7 pm Sat/Sun), but are continuing the kids lunch program from 12-1 pm, Tues-Fri.
The Lox Bagel Shop (Short North): Free bagels for all children affected by school closures during their open hours. Call in your order or order on the website for carryout or delivery. They will curbside deliver your order. Just give us a call (614-824-4005) when you arrive.
Smoked on High BBQ (Brewery District): FREE order of drummies or pulled chicken at their Brewery District location, Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. while supplies last. This promo has been extended for the time being.
Moody Trudy Food Truck: Free meals to kids from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 4490 Indianola Ave. Service industry employees get 1/2 off, Nurses and other hospital staff get $1 off. TEXT 330-312-6990 for menu (delivery or pick up available).
Gokul Cafe: Complimentary vegan meals for kids. Call 614-766-2233.
Sheetz: Kidz Meal Bagz is a program providing free meals to help children and families in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meals will be available all day starting Thursday, April 2nd and will include a turkey sandwich, chips and a drink. Families interested in taking advantage of the free Kidz Meal Bagz program should go to participating Sheetz locations (found below) and ask an employee at the register for a meal. Families will be offered one bag per child. Meals will be available daily while supplies last.
*We realize that there aren’t Sheetz locations in Columbus yet, but if we have readers who are quarantining in other parts of Ohio, we wanted them to be aware of the offer. Sheetz IS coming to Central Ohio, so I wanted to highlight the good they are doing.
Jolly Pirate Donuts (Newark): All students get a free donut and drink between 7 am – 9 am
Franks & Sammies – Hotdogs and Sammiches in a class of their own (Newark): Free kids meals from 11 am – 3 pm. The lunches provided will be pb&j sandwiches, corndogs, or hotdogs, based on availability, along with chips or fruit, and water. Kids must be present to get the free kids meals. Not available through delivery services.
Greek Express: Free lunch to any school-aged child in need from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday-Friday, at any of their 5 locations throughout central Ohio. Offer valid through April 3; check for extension due to extended school closing.
Discounts and free lunch for kids with purchase
Fusian: $1 grab-and-go peanut butter and jelly rolls to kids and their families at all locations.
Firehouse Subs: From March 23 to April 30, get a FREE Kids’ Combo with the purchase a medium or large sub. (The $4.99 Medium Choice Subs are not valid as a qualifying purchase.) Each combo includes a fountain drink (12-oz.) or carton of milk, dessert and a kid-sized fire hat.
Quiznos: FREE kid’s meal (includes drink and side) with every $12 purchase, through April 7.
Dickey’s Barbeque Pit: Kids eat free* every Sunday! Now available for delivery and carryout orders for a limited time. Use code KEFOLO at online checkout. *One Kids Meal per check with a minimum $10 purchase. Available at participating Dickey’s locations only. Kids 12 and under. Not valid with any other coupons, offers, discounts or promotions.
Other organizations providing free lunch for kids and/or families
Children’s Hunger Alliance: Providing ready-to-eat meals to be distributed Mondays-Fridays outside 3 Columbus Metropolitan Library branches during the library closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. Any child 18 and under will be able to pick up two meals to take home.
- CML Whitehall Branch on E. Broad St. from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- CML Northern Lights Branch on Cleveland Ave from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
- CML Barnett Branch on E. Livingston Ave from 12-1 p.m.
They also have a tool on the website to Map a Meal Site to find locations for free meals to children across Ohio to help reduce food insecurity amid the pandemic crisis.
The LunchBox Ohio: With a goal to end childhood hunger, The Lunchbox passes out emergency food bags to children in the summer and during school closures. If you need food for your family while schools are closed and don’t have transportation for the school lunch food programs or food pantries, email email@example.com or send a message through Facebook.
Blessing Boxes: Blessing Boxes are outdoor cabinets in public places that are stocked with non-perishable food items, basic toiletries, baby supplies, and anything else that might be considered a blessing to someone who finds themselves in need. Items are anonymously donated and anonymously received. A simple rule applies – Leave what you can, take what you need. There are 38 Blessing Boxes around Columbus and about 20 more that go by other names
Find locations of Blessing Boxes around Central Ohio below or at this link.
School provide free lunch for students
Schools are making 1-2 meals per day available for students. Many families count on school meals to meet the needs of their children, and school cancellations can cause families to run out of food and the resources to purchase extra food. While all schools will handle the process differently, most are offering grab and go pickup options available at various locations to prevent crowds. Check with your local school district. Delivery may also be available for certain situations. Some may require registration to ensure they can meet the needs, while others may not need registration.
Mid-Ohio Foodbank has a list of all free lunches provided by schools throughout Central Ohio and surrounding counties the food bank serves.
Columbus City Schools offers free breakfast and lunch to children ages 18 and under at 14 feeding sites, including children who do not attend Columbus City Schools. Click here for Columbus City School food pickup locations – these are available to anyone under the age of 18 – they do not have to be a student. COTA rides are free for anyone (please follow precautions).
COTA is offering free rides for meal pickup. Fares will not be charged on COTA routes until further notice. Customers are to enter and exit all vehicles from the rear door to increase social distancing efforts. Please direct any further questions or concerns to Customer Care at 614-228-1776. Please limit your trips to essential travel only.
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