By Beth Lawrence


Several Jackson County restaurants are giving the word “serving” a whole new meaning in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are offering to feed children.

On Saturday Gov. Roy Cooper issued a mandate to close schools for two weeks following the diagnosis of a Wake County teacher with COVID-19.

For many parents and children, that move deepened the crisis they faced as a result of the pandemic. There are some children in poor and impoverished homes whose only meals are the breakfast and lunch they receive while at school.

That led local business owners to consider ways they could help. 

South of Philly, located in East Sylva Shopping Center, is offering a free grilled cheese sandwich to local children.

“It was a no brainer for us,” said Steve Grady who owns the sandwich shop with his wife, Ally, and Dale Buchanan. “It’s a pretty small thing we could do to help some families that might need it. (Some) people rely on schools and daycare centers to feed children.”

The restaurant will offer the service to families with children from Monday to Friday as long as schools are closed or until the end of the school year.

The sandwiches are being offered no questions asked. Anyone who shows up with a child 17 or under will be given a grilled cheese sandwich for that child.

The restaurant is also examining ways they can help those out of work in the coming weeks.

O’Malley’s Pub, on Asheville Highway, is offering all kids menu items free for K-12 students until the end of March.

Ferrara Pizza and Pasta, located in Sylva Plaza, is offering a free slice of pizza and a drink to school age children from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. until school is back in session.