LOCAL CORONAVIRUS: American Lunch truck makes rounds with free lunches

Tina Harbuck
Jay Hornung picks up a lunch at the American Lunch food truck in front of Harbor Docks restaurant in Destin on Monday. The truck provides free lunches seven days a week at locations around Destin. [DEVON RAVINE/DAILY NEWS]

In an effort to give back and help those in the community with the coronavirus lingering in our midst, the American Lunch truck has been making it’s rounds offering up free lunches.

“We’re doing it because we know times are tough, and food is hard to come by for people ... and people need to eat,” said Eddie Morgan of Harbor Docks Restaurant.

The American Lunch truck is an extension of the Morgan family restaurants such as Harbor Docks, La Paz, The Local Market and Camille’s. Each restaurant donates 1 percent of their sales to help fund the truck. The Morgan family also has other restaurants in the south that have lunch trucks that usually run at least twice a week.

But with the threat of COVID-19, “We are doing it every day here now,” Morgan said.

Last week, the truck ran every day in Destin. This week, the truck is scheduled to be at Harbor Docks on U.S. 98 in Destin on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Sunday. Tuesday it will be at La Paz on Gulf Shore Drive, Camille’s on Thursday on Scenic U.S. 98 and then The Local Market on Saturday on Gulf Shore Drive.

“We’ve had great response. We’ve been averaging about 150 people a day,” Morgan said.

Overall, the lunch trucks in the various cities throughout the southeast from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Athens, Georgia, served a little more than 5,000 people last week, according to Morgan.

In the Destin area, Morgan said he’s seen a lot of repeat customers stopping by.

Monday the truck was set up in the parking lot at Harbor Docks and was serving up seafood gumbo or a ham and cheese sandwich along with a bottle of water to all who dropped by.

“We’re going to be regularly ordering food to keep feeding people,” Morgan said.

The American Lunch truck has served up everything from fish salad sandwiches to ham and cheese to gumbo and pulled pork sandwiches.

“We try to keep a good variety of stuff ... we don’t want to get boring with it,” Morgan said.

Mac Moore, who has been with the Destin Post Office more than a decade, stopped by Monday in his mail truck.

“The free got my attention,” Moore said. “But this is really a cool thing to do ... and I’ve been really busy right now.”

Moore said the Post Office has been extremely busy the last couple of weeks delivering a lot of Amazon packages and a “little bit of mail.”

However, he said this wasn’t his first time to hit up the American Lunch truck.

For locals Sam Harris and his 3-year-old son Mason, it wasn’t their first time either.

Harris said he’s been cutback at work so the free lunch was welcomed.

“Plus you can’t pass up Harbor Docks’ gumbo,” he said. “This is awesome for the community ... others should take notice.”

Scott Rudeloff did a drive-by on Monday to pick up lunch for him and his wife and two boys. Both he and his wife got layed off due to the trickle down affect of the coronavirus.

“We love Harbor Docks ... (It’s a) great idea,” Rudeloff said as he picked up sandwich bags for the family.

Last week, Morgan said they fed the homeless, people that work on the docks, bar tenders that are out of work as well as working people such as pharmacists.

“They’re busy and tired and just don’t have the time to get food,” Morgan said of the pharmacists.

Then others just see the signs out on the highway that read “free lunch now.”

“You see a lot of people slam on their brakes and pull in ... and they ask what in the world is going on here?” Morgan said.

On Sunday they delivered 14 lunches to the Destin Fire Control District.

Other restaurants in the community are helping to supply the American Lunch truck as well. Last week Moe’s Original Bar B Que supplied pulled pork sandwiches and a side for customers. This week Pazzo Italiano restaurant was scheduled to help out on Tuesday at The Local Market location.

How long will the truck be making rounds?

“We’re going to do it as long as we need to. Right now there’s no end date in sight,” Morgan said. “Everything’s free. Completely free of charge. No questions asked. We’re not here to judge, we’re just here to feed people.”