Coal Miner's Diner takeout

Greg Sivits heads out from the Coal Miner’s Diner in Jennerstown to deliver a meal to a local residence on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The diner will also deliver meals to vehicles in the parking lot, where patrons are can eat, and free meals to children are offered.

JENNERSTOWN – When Eileen Darr heard the coronavirus was closing Pennsylvania’s schools, she turned to social media, pledging that the Coal Miner’s Diner would be there to provide lunch for any hungry child who needs it.

The response was “inspiring,” she said.

Even as a steady flow of families have brought children in need – compelling the Jennerstown diner to hand out as many as 130 lunches last week – many have instead donated to her restaurant to keep up the deed.

“It’s just been amazing. There have been times people have walked up to us and handed over a $10 or $20, saying ‘We want to help,’ ” Darr said. 

“It’s inspiring because ... some of them probably don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from. We’re all impacted by this.”

A representative from Somerset Township’s Walmart donated a $50 gift card toward restocking up on lunch supplies. Richland Township-based Gallikers Dairy donated milk, she added.

“With everything going on ... it’s wonderful to see,” Darr said.

Darr and her husband, Rodney, operate the Route 30 restaurant.

And she said she hopes that will continue, with as many employees as she can afford to keep in the coming weeks.

With its dining room closed, the restaurant added curbside and home delivery in the past week to better serve takeout customers. But she acknowledged the shutdown is tough for restaurants such as her’s.

“It’s troubling right now. I don’t want my restaurant to go under,” Darr said. “But I don’t want children here to go hungry either. If someone needs help, I’m going to do what I can to help them.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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