WACO, Texas — As restaurants around the country scale back their operations to take out and delivery only, a new social media campaign encouraged the public to continue supporting local eateries.

Tuesday, Americans were encouraged to order at least one meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner to help take part in the Great American Takeout. Like many businesses across the U.S., the restaurant industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic with many being shut down or forced to layoff staff.

"We employee Waco people," said Jamie Blanek, catering manager at Blanek Custom Catering. "Some of them live paycheck to paycheck. They need us to work hard to they can continue working."

The initiative comes as both local and chain restaurants are struggling to keep employees. Blanek said the support of Central Texas has shown throughout the day has been absolutely amazing.

"We have tons of people right now who are ordering lunch and dinner," Blanek said. "They don't need to but they are because they realize that we need the help. All of the restaurants need the help."

The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted waiter staff, who depend on tips. As many as seven million restaurant workers could lose their jobs over the next three months. As Blanek mentioned, every customer they get right now goes a long way.

"I just love how the community has come together," Blanek said. "We are all supporting each other. We don't know how long this is going to last but we are all here for each other."

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