Oklahoma Restaurants Are Giving Out Free Meals Using 'Receipt Walls'

The way that most of us respond to hunger pains is to go into the kitchen, open the fridge, and get a bite to eat. But for millions of people all around the world, a steady food supply simply isn't a reality.

Many have been forced to go without in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, wondering when and where their next hot meal will come from. This stark reality has inspired several Oklahoma restaurants to begin giving out free meals using 'receipt walls.'

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the way that billions of people around the world live their lives.

Worldwide lockdowns and pandemic restrictions have forced millions of people out of a job. Now more than ever before, citizens of the world are being forced to choose between the basic necessities of life: food or shelter.

This impossible dilemma is causing many families to go to bed hungry, only to wake up and repeat the same process all over again.

The idea of a child going to bed without a hot meal began to weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of Oklahoma restaurant owners.

Jessica White is the owner of the Dawg House in Miami (Oklahoma — not Florida). In order to help give back to her local community, she came up with the idea to put up a receipt wall inside her restaurant.

The idea being that anyone who was hungry and in need of something to eat could come in off the street, pull a receipt from the wall and get a bite to eat.

In no time at all, receipt walls began popping up all across the Sooner State.

The receipt wall or "the giving wall" as it's affectionately referred to, is 100% funded by diners and generous patrons who purchase pre-paid meals for those in need.

Beth Hillburn, the owner of the Hi-Way Cafe, says that she's positively delighted at the generosity of others. "I got a check a couple of weeks ago from a man who gave $100," she told Insider. "I can feed at least 10 people) with that!"

According to Beth, the receipt wall at the Hi-Way Cafe is always full.

Beth told Insider that her customers absolutely love the concept of the receipt wall and that they can't get enough. "By the end of the first day), we had 12 or 15 meals available, and we've never had less than that," she said.

With so many people eager to lend a hand, Beth thought it best to begin tracking the donations that were being sent to the restaurant.

As of right now, Beth and the Hi-Way Cafe have received donations from eight different states.

It seems that all across the country people are eager to be a part of the trend — one donation even came all the way from the United Kingdom! But what's even more incredible is that so far, more than 104 people have benefited from the receipt wall.

That number may not seem like a lot, at first, but as Beth explains "You have to understand, my little restaurant seats 60 people, and our town is a little over 5,000 people in rural Oklahoma."

That means that the Hi-Way Cafe has served more than 2% of the entire town since implementing the receipt wall.

Those numbers are incredibly impressive, the kind of conversion targets that McDonald's or Tim Horton's would boast about. Beth says that for the Hi-Way Cafe to be able to contribute in such a manner is nothing short of miraculous.

Beth recalls one couple coming in three separate times in the same week to use the receipt wall "They kept telling me how appreciative they were and kept apologizing — like they were sorry that they had to use it," she said.

Then, not even a week later, that same couple returned to make a donation of their own to the receipt wall.

Beth was delighted to see the kindness of strangers come full circle in her own restaurant. She said that prior to erecting the receipt wall, that the effects of COVID-19 on her town remained largely invisible:

"I didn't realize how many people in need there were in my community)," Hilburn said. "Especially with the way the economy is right now, this is a big deal to a lot of people."

Beth's greatest wish is that receipt walls continue to spread across the country and remain standing long after the pandemic is behind us.