JACK WINANS STANDS with a collection of bagged Lunches of Love (LOLs) at We Serve. Coffee. The downtown Findlay coffee shop/eatery is offering free grab-and-go bagged lunches on weekdays to help keep schoolchildren and the general public fed during the coronavirus-related shutdowns. (Photo Jeannie Wiley Wolf)

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Staff Writer

In these uncertain times, there’s one thing you can count on: Lunch with a helping of love.

We Serve. Coffee is providing Lunches of Love (LOL for short) for anyone who might need one. Owner Jack Winans said he decided to implement the program when it was announced that the schools would be closing in response to the COVID-19 virus.

The program is mainly to benefit children who will not be getting a meal at school, he said Monday.

“And since we’ve instituted that, the schools have come together. The alliance has been formed. There’s a lot of opportunities,” he said.

But he said some students might not be able to make it to their schools to pick up a meal. He hopes the coffee shop/eatery located at 114 E. Sandusky St. will service Lincoln Elementary School children and also teenagers who live in the downtown area.

“But we’re not restricting anybody,” said Winans. “If they come in and say ‘LOL,’ they’ll walk out the door with some food.”

Monday’s brown bag lunch included a turkey and cheese sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a banana. There were 50 lunches ready and waiting. Winans said he had no idea how many people would come in and pick up a meal.

“Today is going to dictate what we do tomorrow. And tomorrow’s going to dictate what we do the next day,” he said.

Winans said he expects the numbers to increase as the end of the month gets closer. “As the families that are on assistance, as their cupboards are getting a little more scarce, I think we’re going to see an uptick,” he said. “So going into next week, we’ll probably just have a little bit more on hand.”

This philosophy is something the business, which was started seven years ago by Dr. Greg Arnette and his family, was founded on: as a way to give back to the community.

Winans and his wife, Becky, have owned the business for three years. And Winans worked there two years before that.

“That just kind of fits in with our motto, our reason for being here, our business model, everything,” he said. “If we can’t love one another and help people in need, then what good are we?”

For Lunches of Love, people need to come in and pick them up, and the children need to be present.

“We don’t want somebody taking two or three lunches per child. It’s a daily thing. Get out, walk here if you need to and get out of your house. Keeping the interaction and the social distancing to a minimum, but walking here is not a bad deal,” he said.

In light of Sunday’s order by Gov. Mike DeWine that all Ohio bars and restaurants close, Winans said business hours will be changed to 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. A Facebook poll will reveal whether the shop needs to be open on Saturdays.

Winans said the daily lunches will vary. “We’re looking at the weather, too, which will kind of determine (the menu). On a nicer day, we’ll do cold stuff. On a colder day, we’ll likely do some warm foods, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti and meatballs. Those kinds of things.”

The shop has received some monetary donations to help with Lunches of Love, “so the burden doesn’t fully lay on us, which is nice. I have a person who said they would help us offset the cost at the end, once the program is finalized and we get back to some normalcy,” Winans said.

Volunteers to help prepare lunches will also be appreciated, he said.

Winans said even if the business is forced to close fully — with no carryout options allowed — he hopes to continue to offer the lunches. He added that it wasn’t a difficult decision to make in organizing the program.

“As I said in my (Facebook) post, in this time of uncertainty, the one thing that is certain is we can love one another and that we were going to provide these Lunches of Love. It doesn’t take any extra effort to love somebody,” Winans said. “And for the lunches to provide that nourishment that the kids need, it’s just an easy thing to do.”

Wolf: 419-427-8419

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