The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people from just about every walk of life, but those it affects most are often the ones who need help the most.

But some local folks are doing everything they can to ensure everyone gets a proper meal.

Many people who are homeless in Birmingham don’t know where they’ll sleep at night, but they do know Linn Park is the spot for a hearty lunch.

Every day, 75 to 100 people begin gathering in the park in the late morning hours, waiting on the American Lunch Food Truck. It’s one of the few things they can still count on.

It’s run by the owners of Five Bar and Chuck’s Fish restaurants. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the truck came to Linn Park three days a week. Now, it’s seven days a week.

There are also trucks operating seven days a week in Tuscaloosa and Destin, Florida, and trucks operating Monday through Friday in Pensacola, Florida, and Athens and Mobile. For locations, visit American Lunch’s Facebook page.

“We come out to Linn Park every day,” said Carter Tanner with Five Bar. “We bring packaged food now instead of soup, so there’s not much contact. We just wrap sandwiches or rice and just try to feed as many as we can.”

The truck shows up just before noon every day, and makes several stops around Birmingham. But the biggest crowd is usually at Linn Park.

Anyone who shows up gets lunch, no questions asked.

“This is rewarding for all of us here,” Tanner said. “We’re all volunteering here and it’s fun to do. I know these people by name now, so I just enjoy doing it honestly.”

It’s not just restaurants stepping up and providing meals for hungry folks, though.

Nancy New works at Renasant Bank right next to Linn Park, and has been bringing meals there for four years. She said she started out bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and she just kept going every Friday. Now, she’s increased things even more.

“We do 80 lunches in the hopes that everybody will get at least two bags,” New said.

Some of her co-workers donate money or food, and Nancy prepares and delivers everything she can. But it’s never enough. At least not until American Lunch shows up.

“They’re light neighbors to us I think,” Tanner said. “They’re just neighbors in need right now, and we’re happy to make a free lunch for them and come up here and help our neighbors.”

New said she agrees.

“I’ve always been told God’s will is His bill, so if he wants me to feed people he’s going to make sure that I’m able to continue to do it,” New said.

And the good news is, the American Lunch truck will be back every day ensuring those most in need know where their next meal comes from.

Categories: Community, Local News, Spirit of Alabama