Big Al’s BBQ in Adel is currently working to offer free meals from 4-8 p.m. each night throughout this week.


The Adel restaurant was first approached by community members after Ambro’s Roadhouse in De Soto began offering free meals to children who may not otherwise receive them with schools currently closed. Big Al’s BBQ later extended the free meals to include Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 as a way to use food items that had to be disposed of if not cooked within a certain time.


Once word of the community-wide effort spread, it wasn’t long before the restaurant received several donations in order to help people who have been impacted by social distancing and COVID-19


“It’s unbelievable. We have so many people that want to give money to sponsor free meals and ask how they can be a sponsor,” Big Al’s BBQ owner Al Laudencia said. “A lot of things have transpired as a result of this free food movement. That’s the power of the Adel community.”


Laudencia said that even in times of trouble, food is something that brings people together. He credits his background and love of cooking with teaching him how to stretch a meal in order to feed many people. A steak dinner, for example, could possibly feed a family of 12 if it were made into a soup or a stew. Laudencia is, therefore, working to raise approximately $250 for each of the four hours a free meal is offered, which could help feed approximately 50 people in each hour.


“It’s learning how to stretch what you got,” Laudencia said. “The support is just unbelievable, and the community is really stepping up. This is when people are coming together.”


Big Al’s BBQ has since been approached by a variety of sponsors, including Brewer Family Farms, LLC of Dallas Center, Tim Canney of Lincoln Savings Bank of Adel and Farm Bureau Financial Services Financial Planner Agent John Harada.


Harada said that being a sponsor is not only a good way for him and his family to show their appreciation and love for the community but also to help anyone that is in need of some assistance.


“With the current conditions, people shouldn’t worry about where they can get a good meal. By doing this, we are getting the assistance where people need it. It’s our hope that they get some comfort in knowing that they are not alone and have people who are supporting them, even if it’s just a hot meal,” Harada said.


In appreciation for what Big Al’s BBQ is doing, Lincoln Savings Bank of Adel will also give a $5 gift card to customers who request one through the bank’s drive-through, while supplies last. This is to help encourage community members to support the restaurant while businesses work through social distancing and COVID-19 changes.


“I think it’s a great example of small town community hospitality, helping each other out during difficult times,” Lincoln Savings Bank of Adel Branch Manager and Residential Mortgage Lender Tim Canney said. “There is just a great deal of uncertainty and there are folks already financial hurting, so this is a very practical way to help.”


Contributions to Big Al’s BBQ have ranged from monetary donations to food such as brisket, pork butts and pork ribs. In addition, community members continue to purchase kids meals that can be provided to families as needed. Those interested in making a donation, can contact the restaurant at (515) 993-5777.


“People are now paying it forward. We are taking something absolutely awful that’s affecting the world and turning it into something good,” Laudencia said. “That’s what I love about food. It’s the common denominator.”