2020 has been nothing less than a whirlwind of unknowns for many people. But Broadway Diner has made sure no parent has to go without knowing where their child's next meal will come from.
KIND meals served kindly
The diner began serving free breakfast and lunch meals to students and children in need on March 19. Dave Johnson, who owns the diner with his parents, was the one who came up with the idea of what the diner calls KIND meals.
According to Johnson, KIND stands for "kids in need" with the "D" standing for diner. Since starting in March, the diner has served around 8,000 meals.
"I knew there were a lot of kids who rely on school lunches, and they wouldn't have access to those if and when the schools closed," says Johnson. "I just felt compelled to feed any kid that could get here safely."
Throughout the pandemic, Johnson and his staff supplied meals for students ranging from elementary school to college kids who couldn't get home or had to stay on campus.
"I want to do what I can to feed them and make sure they're nourished and know that they are loved," Johnson says.
Lizzandra Marie, a Columbia resident, has been picking up KIND meals for her two children and her neighbor's two kids after hearing about the free meals through Facebook.
"I've been going to the Broadway Diner since the COVID-19 mess started," Marie says. "Dave and his staff are wonderful loving people. Being low income and having their breakfast and lunches has helped tremendously."
As much as Johnson has impacted the kids, he has also made an impact on the parents. Christina Sparks is one such parent.
Sparks lost her job in March when the virus hit and suddenly had to take care of her two kids along with two children who weren't her own.
"I was taking care of somebody else's kids during the day and they weren't providing me food for them or anything," Sparks says. "I barely had enough to feed mine at the time. I don't know what I would've gave the kids if it weren't for (the diner)."
Her anxiety was high at the time, and being a single parent, she didn't have anyone to lean on.
"I was unsure about everything," Sparks says. "The owner of the diner, as well as his staff, they really made me feel touched and cared about when I didn't have anybody else to make me feel that."
Sparks says that the kids each had special diets, and the diner worked to provide meals that fit each individual child's diet plan. She said that the taco salad was her kids' favorite meal to eat.
"Every time I went to go get those kids meals, (Dave) made it a point to stop what he was doing and come and say hi to me and ask how I was doing," Sparks says. "Having that one person to show me some love every morning, that really helped me emotionally, and I will never be able to repay him for that."
How to help
In order to support the diner's KIND meals, Johnson asks that everyone practices taking care of others. He also asks that people continue to share their posts and spread the word about the KIND meals through the diner's Facebook page and Instagram account.
And while he doesn't expect any donations from the community, he also appreciates the financial support that he is able to receive, whether it is sending a check, receiving a Venmo or simply ordering food from the diner.
Broadway Diner is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. They do pickup only, and customers can call ahead to order at (573) 875-1173; there is no online ordering. Outside seating is available to the public for pickup orders, or you can take your meal to go.