With schools closed, volunteers hand out free lunch to students near Phillips Avenue Elementary School

Volunteers handed out breakfast and lunch bags at locations throughout Flanders and Riverside Friday for students.

Phillips Avenue principal Deb Rodgers said she had spoken to district food services manager Keith Graham and he mentioned that the school had extra food that could go to waste since the building was closed all week.

It led to a grassroots effort to set up five locations throughout the area where Phillips Avenue students live to give out free breakfast and lunch packages.

Ms. Rodgers said the locations were centralized bus stops where some kids could easily walk to pick up food if they didn’t have transportation.

An automated call went out to parents notifying them of the option.

“It was kind of a last minute thing,” Ms. Rodgers said. “Overall it went very well.”

Vinnie Ammirato, a teacher in the Mount Sinai School District, was joined by his sons Tyler and Ryan Friday as they distributed lunches set up on two folding tables on June Avenue in Flanders. Ms. Rodgers is his sister-in-law.

Mr. Ammirato said the bags contained an assortment of food, such as cereal, milk, yogurts and cheese sticks. Mr. Ammirato said they started without about 100 bags at their location and ended up with only a handful leftover.

The majority of the lunches were picked up by parents who drove to them, he said. They were there from noon to 1 p.m., he said.

The school district had previously announced that grab-and-go meals will be available on a daily basis at all K-4 elementary schools beginning Wednesday, March 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. All families, representing all grade levels, are welcome to pick up meals.

Friday’s effort was in addition to that.

Ms. Rodgers said Phillips has been servicing the most meals so far from the grab-and-go program.

“The whole situation just breaks my heart,” Ms. Rodgers said. “I can’t wait to get back to some sort of routine.”