Coronavirus prompts fast food chains to offer free items during pandemic

Coronavirus-hit restaurants helped by ‘Great American Takeout’ campaign

Blaze Pizza CEO Mandy Shaw on bringing together restaurants across the country for the #GreatAmericanTakeout campaign.

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Restaurants throughout the country have closed eat-in dining in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, so some chains are trying to drum up take-out and drive-thru orders.

A handful of them are giving away free food, too.

Taco Bell

In March, Taco Bell announced that it would give away at least a million Doritos Locos Tacos at drive-thrus of participating locations. CEO Mark King wrote in a letter that restaurants are committed to providing food for essential workers in the pandemic, like those who work in hospitals, grocery stores and transportation.

Taco Bell might be giving special recognition to essential workers, but the deal will be available to anyone who goes through a restaurant drive-thru. Taco Bell did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business on how many tacos have so far been given away, but Monday marks the third straight week the promotion has been active.

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Burger King

The fast-food chain announced Monday that it will give away free Whoppers to “students who are continuing to study hard through the worldwide pandemic.”

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Through April 20, Burger King said it will post a question on its social media pages each day, covering topics like biology, chemistry, literature and math, and students who answer correctly via the BK mobile app will get the free sandwich with any purchase.

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Dominos

Dominos said last week that its company-owned and franchised stores will give away roughly 10 million slices of pizza in local communities to health care centers, grocery store workers, school children, families and others in need.

“When we were looking at how we could help, we knew we could use the reach of our national brand to make a difference in thousands of local neighborhoods,” Russell Weiner, the brand’s chief operating officer and president of the Americas, said at the time. “We have franchisees and company-owned stores all over the country already doing amazing work in their communities and we know that by amplifying those efforts together we will be able to help even more people.”

The company paid each of its franchisees to cover the cost of 200 large, one-topping pizzas, which typically have eight slices to a pie and cost about $11.99, to meet its goal of 10 million slices.

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All 6,126 stores nationwide are expected to participate.

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Steak ‘n Shake

The brand recently announced it would offer one free order of fries per order for Americans on and off the front lines of the fight. The “We're All Essential” initiative expands on a deal it previously set in place for essential workers. Patrons who order via the drive-thru can get the free fries.

There are roughly 550 Steak 'n Shake restaurants in 28 states, according to the company.

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Other big restaurant chains have been committed to helping their communities, too.

Starbucks is offering free coffee for first responders and health care workers. Sandwich shop Jersey Mike's Subs has committed to donating millions of subs as part of the company's Million Sub Sandwich initiative. And some chains, like Subway, will sell groceries including bread, meat, cheese and vegetables, plus chips and cookies.

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