Where to eat for free if you're struggling during the shutdown

Restaurants, food banks stepping up to help furloughed federal employees

This is William Striffler's paycheck.
This is William Striffler's paycheck. (William Striffler via CNN)

Thousands of Central Floridians are struggling to put food on the table as the country enters the 28th day of an historic partial federal government shutdown. Some local companies and restaurants are stepping up to support federal workers on furlough. With no end in sight to the shutdown and no indication as to when the next paycheck will arrive, employees are urged to take advantage of the help.


Romano's Macaroni Grill is offering a free bowl of Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs and Spaghetti through Wednesday or until the shutdown ends between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at all locations. 

Lucky's Market.
Lucky's Market.

Lucky’s Market is providing free lunch Saturday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for furloughed federal employees and immediate family members. A federal ID is required. There are Lucky’s Market locations in Winter Park, Orlando, Clermont, West Melbourne and Hunter’s Creek. Lunch will be available while supplies last.

MX Taco, a brand-new eatery in the Milk District of Orlando, is offering free tacos for government employees while the shutdown continues. The new restaurant just opened this month on North Bumby Avenue.

Rocco's Tacos.
Rocco's Tacos.

If you live in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar is showing its support for government employees by giving a $20 one-time credit with proper identification. Rocco’s Tacos is on West Sand Lake Road. The credit is not applicable on Taco Tuesday or for alcoholic drinks. 

Food Banks

Furloughed employees can stock up on essentials at Second Harvest food bank of Central Florida. The food bank has multiple locations in Brevard, Lake, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia counties, and the Orlando International Airport area.

Orlando International Airport.
Orlando International Airport.

Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Aviation Administration employees are getting some help through a food drive at the Orlando International Airport. The Airline Management Council is sponsoring the donation drive. Click here for more details.

The Hummingbird Pantry in Titusville opened its pantry to furloughed workers last week. The nonprofit assisted more than 9,800 families last year with more than 125,000 pounds of food. Recipients need to fill out a short form to have with them. Find more information here.

The Soup Shop in Melbourne collected food and toiletry donations for the local U.S. Coast Guard member and their families impacted by the shutdown. The owners said they are “proud Coastie” parents” and wanted to help anyone in a bind.

Feed your pet 

The struggle to feed a family extends to our beloved pets. The SPCA of Brevard Adoption Center posted on Facebook that federal workers can stop by their Titusville location to get pet food at no cost.