Ladybird Diner Sack Lunches

Sack lunches prepared by Ladybird Diner in Lawrence, Kansas.

Three local businesses are preparing and donating free sack lunches to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Like numerous other restaurants, breweries, and service businesses, Wind Shift Brewing, Soirée, Steak & Oyster House and Ladybird Diner have temporarily ceased operations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Although the free lunches do bear a cost, economically and socially, these businesses have decided to continue serving community members who were suddenly laid off, face pending bills and struggle to feed families.

Wind Shift Brewing

Brewery founders Tony DiPlacito and Lynn DiPlacito partnered with Barry Pruette and Tammy Worth, who plan to open a bakery and small plates restaurant in Blue Springs, to set up a makeshift sack lunch program.

“Lunches are available 11am to 1pm, all week long, until no longer needed or we run out of funds,” says Tony. “The lunches are either peanut butter and jelly or a ham and cheese sandwich with chips, fruit, nutrition bars, pudding cup and some sort of treat.”

The DiPlacitos were inspired while communicating with a local nonprofit. “When Lynn and I talked with Food For Thought, our monthly charity, we had no idea how many kids can't afford a school lunch,” Tony says. “With the kids out of school and parents out of jobs, we felt we had to do something. So many of our friends in the service industry find themselves, hopefully temporarily, unemployed. We wanted to help where we could. We knew we couldn't do it alone. We reached out to Barry and Tammy. It's been inspiring to see everyone come together.”

Monetary donations may be sent via PayPal to lecafebleubs@gmail.com to underwrite the sack lunch program and Food for Thought.

Wind Shift Brewing, 3421B NW Jefferson St., Blue Springs, Missouri, 816.786.2699, windshiftbrew.com

Ladybird Diner

Owner Meg Heriford and her team kept the Lawrence diner running until Saturday night. Afterward, Heriford made the decision to close her business out of safety concerns for her employees and guests. “Too many people were coming in. We couldn’t keep up with sanitizing every surface that people touched,” Heriford says. “We closed to keep people safe. Then thought about how to best serve the community.”

Countless service industry workers, including most of her staff, were without a job and income as other restaurants also temporarily shut down. Heriford assessed community needs, especially once local schools and the library closed. Heriford knew she needed to do what she did best – feed people. Along with one employee, Heriford began preparing free sack lunches this Monday. Ladybird Diner also began stocking a pantry to supply service industry workers.

“We’re preparing 350 lunches daily,” Heriford says. “There are many kids, families and individuals who need something to eat. The lunches are free to anyone from 11am to noon, Monday through Friday.”

Lunches vary each day. Last Friday’s options included a peanut butter sandwich with chips, apple and a cookie; a cheese sandwich with fruit, chips and a side dish; and mushroom soup prepared by neighboring restaurant 715 served with rolls.

“We have ingredients donated by other restaurants that we’re able to turn into soups and meals,” Heriford says. Local restaurants are partnering with Ladybird Diner while observing safe handling practices. “It is nice to see how many folks in the service industry are rallying and doing it safely. We’re figuring out how to collectively [unite] our effort.”

Ladybird Diner, 721 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas, 785.856.5239, ladybirddiner.com

Soirée Steak & Oyster House

Chef-owner Anita Moore is also preparing and offering free sack lunches to the community while supplies last. She posts on Facebook how many are available each weekday. Guests may pull up at curbside and call the restaurant for curbside delivery.

Soirée Steak & Oyster House, 1512 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.214.5706, soireekc.com