PEPPERELL – In the midst of panic over the coronavirus, a local restaurant is stepping up to help kids who lost a meal as well as their studies.
C & S Pizza announced on Sunday that it will be offering free lunch options at its restaurant for pick-up or delivery “for the children that are on a reduced or free lunch plan. The restaurant, which first opened in 1972, is offering macaroni and cheese, pasta with sauce, pasta with butter or a grilled cheese. Each option comes with bread and a piece of fruit.
This comes after Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement on March 15 that all public and private elementary and secondary schools in Massachusetts would be closed for three weeks. This of course includes the North Middlesex Regional School District, which covers Pepperell kids. Superintendent Brad Morgan said on March 15 that schools would likely reopen on April 8.
The district announced on March 17 it would be offering breakfast and lunch options starting on March 18. Parents can pick-up meals at the front entrance of the North Middlesex Regional High School from 9 to 11 a.m. Meals can be ordered via the lunch ordering link on the district website or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Gikas, co-owner of C & S Pizza, said on Monday that the restaurant is fully-staffed with no employees showing any signs of the virus.
“It’s a tough time for the kids,” he said. “This town has supported us for so many years and this is a way that we can support them. In my heart, I knew this was the right thing to do. It’s a small thing that we can do to help parents worried about putting food on their kids’ table.”
Gikas added that C & S will still have regular business hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, though its dining area is closed down. He said that his staff are wearing sanitary gloves and cleaning the restaurant regularly.
“Of course I’m concerned but everyone is,” Gikas said. “It is what it is. I believe it’s going to pass but it might take some time. People have to take it day by day.”
As of Tuesday, the restaurant has given out 20 meals in-person and through delivery. Though the restaurant is asking for no charge on the food, the students have been showing appreciation through homemade thank-you cards to C & S staff.
Gikas said some residents have been offering donations so the restaurant can add fruit snacks, chips and slices of fruit to the kids’ lunches.
“Thank God we’re in a position where we can cater to people,” he said.