Here’s everything you need to know.

By Tim Nelson
March 23, 2020
Europa Press News/Getty Images

The coronavirus has ground life as we know it to a halt for a significant portion of the country. It’s disrupted how we live and work, keeping us cooped up and interacting with each other via Zoom conference. But for far too many people, the end of “non-essential” work in many places and the closure of schools inspires more urgent questions of survival: Where is my next paycheck coming from? How are my kids going to eat while school is closed?

In a just world, the fact that these questions even need to be asked should inspire longer-term changes to how our society is organized. But there are a lot of people from all walks of life who need practical and immediate help right now. With that in mind, here’s a running list of chain restaurants who’ve offered to help out with free or discounted meals (especially for kids) amid the coronavirus.

Burger King is leading the charge, offering two free kids meals for every adult meal ordered. The program was set to roll out the week of March 23, so it should be available now (or at least very soon) in your area.

Moe’s Southwest Grill is following Burger King’s lead, offering a free kid’s entree with every adult entree purchased.

While McDonald’s hasn’t issued a network-wide directive to offer free food, franchisees in various parts of the country have stepped up and made that decision themselves. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, 41 McDonald’s locations in the Memphis area will offer free breakfast between 7 and 10 AM. Any purchase earns you a free entree and free side for a child 13 or under. Other McDonald’s locations in Iredell County, North Carolina, have adopted a similar policy for lunchtime. Children 12 and under accompanied by a parent can choose from a variety of kids menu-type items for free when accompanied by a parent between 11 AM and 2 PM. Expect more McDonald’s franchisees to potentially follow suit.

Sweetgreen is offering a deal for hospital workers and medical personnel, establishing Sweetgreen “outposts,” a process that involves delivering free salads and bowls to hospitals in cities where the salad chain operates.

&Pizza, a chain with locations spanning from Boston to Virginia, is offering free pizza for hospital workers from doctors all the way down to cleaning and administrative staff. Just show a valid hospital ID when picking up or text #hero to 200-03 for a delivery code.

Though it’s not part of any COVID-19 response, Wendy’s is offering a free Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from its breakfast menu with your purchase if you create an account and order through their app. It’s available during breakfast hours only. Evidence suggests this promotion runs through April 6.

With many local restaurants already switching gears to provide relief to communities in need, expect more chains to follow suit. Hopefully this list of names will grow and these efforts will be expanded to ensure everyone can get through this unprecedented situation.

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