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McDonald's giving out free meals to health care workers and first responders

Eligible customers will able to get a breakfast, lunch or dinner through May 5.
/ Source: TODAY

This week, McDonald’s will start thanking workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic with a select menu of free food.

The restaurant chain will begin serving Thank You Meals (special Happy Meals) to first responders, health care workers and police officers on Wednesday, April 22.

“For the next two weeks, we’re going to be thanking first responders and giving them a free meal at McDonald’s,” McDonald's president and CEO Chris Kempczinski told the 3rd hour of TODAY during an interview Tuesday.

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“Breakfast, lunch or dinner, come to McDonald’s if you’re a first responder. Show your ID or work badge, or whatever, and we’ll give you a free meal," he explained. "We’re going to put it in a Happy Meal box, but instead of a toy, you won’t get the ‘Trolls’ toy, you’ll get a thank you note for us."

Kempczinski said the meals will cover a wide array of people putting in extra hours during the ongoing health crisis.

“It’s really for all the first responders,” he said. “So, police, paramedics, doctors, nurses. And this is something that we were seeing our franchisees were doing this in their local communities already and, like so many great ideas at McDonald’s, it started in one or two restaurants and we just loved the idea and so we’re taking it national as of tomorrow.”

The offer will run through May 5 and be available at locations offering drive-thru service or via carryout, the company said in a statement.

Customers who are eligible for the promotion will be able to get an Egg McMuffin, Chicken McGriddles or a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit for breakfast, with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee, plus a hash brown.

For lunch or dinner, customers will be able to order a Double Cheeseburger, Chicken McNuggets or a Filet-O-Fish, along with any size of soft drink, tea or hot coffee and small fries.

"We have been inspired by the way our franchisees have been going above and beyond to support their local communities throughout this trying time," McDonald's USA president Joe Erlinger said in the statement released Tuesday. "I couldn't be more proud of how our company, franchisees and supplier partners have come together to give back to those who are working tirelessly for our country."

Kempczinski also addressed how the company is keeping its own employees safe during this time, and pointed to a series of recently instituted initiatives.

“What we’ve done in the last couple weeks, we’ve put in over 50 new processes into our restaurants, things like wellness checks, things like protective barriers, social distancing guidelines. So, a lot of different procedural things,” he said.

“We now have a hundred million masks we’ve shipped into our restaurants because the most important thing for us is to make sure that we’re able to keep our crews safe.”