Whatever your relationship with school lunches is, it likely looks a little different this year as distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic has become the new normal. But as parents add the task of managing distance learning to an already packed schedule of working from home, a little lunchtime relief might be in order.
When the pandemic first took hold in March, many restaurants began offering free lunches for area kids. A few have continued — and others have started inventive lunch programs, priced affordably and ready for pickup on school days.
Here are a few good options.
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 6412 Latona Ave. N.E., Seattle; 206-523-6654, frelardtamales.com
This Green Lake-area shop has been offering a free bag lunch for anyone in need since mid-March and they have no plans to stop. Osbaldo Hernández (who owns the restaurant with his husband, Dennis Ramey) says they have given away over 6,000 lunches so far and average about 36 per day. Lunches aren’t just limited to kids; he says “anyone who needs them” should feel as if they can come pick one up. Lunches include “sandwiches and a couple other goodies” and are available any time the shop is open.
Salt & Iron and The MAR•KET
Salt & Iron: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday; 321 Main St., #3135, Edmonds; 425-361-1112, saltniron.com
The MAR•KET: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; 508 Main St., #3148, Edmonds; 425-967-5329, marketfreshfish.com
Two of the restaurants under Shubert Ho’s Feed Me Hospitality umbrella are offering a $5 school lunch on weekdays from noon-2 p.m. Orders can be made online and picked up from Salt & Iron or The MAR•KET, both located in downtown Edmonds. Delivery is also available. Lunches change weekly, but each will consist of a protein, starch, vegetable and fruit. The menu for the week of Sept. 21-25 at The MAR•KET is a fish taco with chips, mango salsa and sliced cucumbers. The menu at Salt & Iron for the week is chicken strips, potato salad, carrot sticks and fresh fruit. The company is also accepting donations for free meals, giving the money raised ($15/meal) to the Edmonds School District. As of early August, the company had donated the equivalent of 1,561 meals.
319 N.E. Thornton Place, Seattle, 206-584-2983; 4203 S.W. Alaska St., Seattle, 206-584-2998; 4502 S. Steele St., Mall Suite 501A, Tacoma, 253-650-0639; kizuki.com
Since the middle of March, area school-age kids have been able to pick up a free rice bowl with a choice of chicken or pork from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. daily at two Seattle-area locations of this ramen hot spot. Nuri Aydinel, Kizuki co-founder and partner, said the restaurant group has averaged 20-25 servings per day at the West Seattle and Northgate locations — more, between 35-40, if you include the Tacoma and Beaverton, Oregon, locations. He says that even though they have fewer people asking for it now, they still have community members who utilize it every day.
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 1054 N. 39th St., Seattle; 206-632-0185, kamonegiseattle.com
This Fremont soba specialist has plenty to keep kids happy. Kids can get a free furikake onigiri and Yakult probiotic drink (order additional onigiri at just $3 each). There is also $5 Spam musubi and a $10 Japanese vegetable curry lunch, served with rice. Order online or call for pickup.
Skalka Georgian Bakery & Dumpling House
Noon-7 p.m. daily; 77 Spring St, Seattle; 206-408-8169, skalkaseattle.com
Located on the waterfront, this Georgian bakery started Skalka Kids on Sept. 1. The program provides a few days worth of meals, available for pickup or delivery (twice per week) to anyone living in Seattle, Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Redmond or Kirkland. Main courses — like beef stew, fish cutlets and turkey meatballs — are sold in larger portions ($14-$16) with the option to add on pasta ($6) or mashed potato ($8) sides. There are also desserts available. Order online in advance for delivery or day of for pickup.