Fridays have become the busiest day of the week at Lakeport Market in upstate New York. Friday became known as Pizza Day soon after the store, co-owned by former Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppe executive Matt Paduano, began providing free lunches March 17, when schools in the area were shut down. “We've been looking for opportunities to get more involved with the community. This was a great way to be able to help out,” says Nicole Roth, who runs the store with her siblings Alyssa and Anthony Paduano. Lakeport Market also provides a coloring book or puzzle with the meals. It’s a win for the children and the parents, Roth says, “because I know the kids are probably driving them nuts.” The first Friday, Roth says more than 100 children came through. Since then, she estimates the store has served about 3,500 meals, which are funded by the store and community donations and will continue until the end of the school year in June. Suppliers have pitched in, too. The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, for example, donated a pallet of Bodyarmor. The store, which has been open for about two years, also sold hand sanitizer and face masks at cost.
Nicole Roth hands out free lunches at Lakeport Market. Pizza Friday has become one of the busiest days in the store.