With School District of Philadelphia schools closed due to the spread of coronavirus, Dionne Jackson knew she wasn’t about to take a break.
Jackson works in Mayfair Elementary’s kitchen, and when she heard the school would serve as a site for families to pick up free meals for their kids during the pandemic, she was “first in line” to give out the meals.
“I’ve always been fortunate, so for those who aren’t fortunate, I always want to give my time and dedication to help someone else,” Jackson said.
Within an hour of opening last Friday, Jackson had already given out 204 meals to families, with dozens more given out in the course of a few minutes. Last week, 2,013 meals were given out at Mayfair, with the total of all seven meal sites in Northeast Philadelphia surpassing 15,700 meals distributed.
Setting up the meal sites was one of the city’s first priorities as the virus spread, ordering the city into a shutdown of all nonessential businesses and services. Last week saw a total of more than 55,000 meals being distributed at all city locations, said Superintendent Dr. William Hite.
Meals could be picked up at 30 schools and additional Parks & Rec facilities, and the pickup list expanded this Monday with an increased number of sites.
“I’ve been at the helm of the Food Service Division for many years and seen firsthand the need throughout the city, including Northeast Philadelphia, for distributing as many meals as we do,” said Wayne Grasela, executive director of the district’s food services.
Many families depend on meals offered at the schools to keep their children fed during the day, which is why establishing these meal pickup sites was a top priority, said Danielle Floyd, COO of food services.
In Northeast Philadelphia, 7,859 students were served two meals each last week for a total of 15,718 distributed meals. Sites included A.L. FitzPatrick, which served 601 students; James J. Sullivan, which served 727; Benjamin Franklin, which served 1,325; William H. Loesche, which served 1,368; Solomon Solis-Cohen, which served 1,301; Mayfair, which served 2,013; and Allen M. Stearne, which served 524.
The list of pickup sites expanded this week. Starting Monday, Parks & Rec sites are no longer serving meals, but meals can still be picked up at district schools, charter schools and Philadelphia Housing Authority community centers.
District schools will be open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Families will be able to grab three grab-and-go meals per child on these days.
The following local schools are distributing meals:
- Baldi, 8801 Verree Road
- Stephen Decatur, Academy Road
- Samuel Fels, 5500 Langdon St.
- A.L. FitzPatrick, 11061 Knights Road
- Frankford, 5000 Oxford Ave.
- Benjamin Franklin Elementary, 5737 Rising Sun Ave.
- Warren G. Harding, 2000 Wakeling St.
- Henry W. Lawton, 6101 Jackson St.
- Abraham Lincoln, 3201 Ryan Ave.
- William H. Loesche, 595 Tomlinson Road
- Mayfair, 3001 Princeton Ave.
- Northeast, 1601 Cottman Ave.
- William H. Ziegler, 5935 Saul St.
- Mastery Charter – Smedley, 1790 Bridge St.
- Universal Creighton Charter, 5401 Tabor Ave.
Families can also pick up K-12 learning guides at these sites. As of Wednesday, new K-12 guides will be available on PhilaSD.org, or available at meal pickup sites as of Thursday.
Below are multilingual hotlines for families with questions.
- 215-400-8480 – Albanian
- 215-400-8481 – Arabic
- 215-400-8482 – Chinese
- 215-400-5300 – English
- 215-400-8483 – French
- 215-400-8484 – Khmer
- 215-400-8474 – Portuguese
- 215-400-8485 – Russian
- 215-400-8489 – Spanish
- 215-400-8486 – Vietnamese