SOUTH PORTLAND — The Locker Project and the South Portland College Section have benefitted from a partnership together, supporting students and households proceed to have balanced food all calendar year.
Largely serving South Portland, Portland and Westbrook, the nonprofit Locker Undertaking provides new meals, wholesome staples to educational institutions, said the organization’s website.
Commencing in 2015, the Locker Challenge opened a college pantry at Kaler Elementary, then growing to Brown, Memorial, Skillin and South Portland Superior College in 2016, Tiny and Mahoney in 2019 and Dyer in the tumble of 2020, Kathryn Sargent, govt director, reported.
Ordinarily, the application stocks faculty pantries with healthy staples, Sargent said.
“That was the foundation for the unique method, and we also had been undertaking fresh new food stuff gatherings the place we rescue primarily generate from distinctive supermarkets. We would have a regularly scheduled time that we’d go to a school and lay it all on a desk,” she explained. “The young children would all occur by and pack baggage before the finish of the working day to just take house. Neither of these factors were being probable when individuals educational institutions closed. Even when they reopened, no a person could access the pantries at educational institutions.”
When educational institutions closed in March, the district began providing college foods at several sites throughout South Portland, and the Locker Project partnered with meals company employees to distribute groceries, Sargent mentioned.
“We have been bagging up foodstuff and distributing it that way, so people would appear to get college foods and they would be capable to get our baggage of groceries as effectively,” she explained. “That bag system has progressed. We ongoing performing it as a result of the summer at the university meal websites, and when universities reopened, we altered it a small little bit to individual deliver from staples mainly because make bags have to have a little additional attention. If they are held right away, they need to have to be refrigerated and so forth.”
Now the Locker Challenge distributes eco-friendly baggage with develop and purple bags with staples to every university, the Redbank food web site and the Brickhill site, Sargent mentioned.
The South Portland School Section has supported the application as nicely, securing funding for South Portland programing coordinator Courtney Bowers, who started in September, Sargent reported. Bowers operates with employees and social workers to make sure that college students and families are acquiring obtain to food.
Gretchen McCloy, the faculty department’s director of group partnerships, has been a strong supporter of the Locker Undertaking, Sargent stated.
“So they’ve accomplished a great deal in conditions of communicating with college workers and producing absolutely sure dad and mom know the useful resource is available,” she stated. “They’ve provided us with money assist, so they secured funding for Courtney’s place for this calendar year, which is tremendous handy. There have been small grants that they’ve gotten for precise colleges or precise assignments, so they’ve been truly invested in it and fully commited to generating absolutely sure that little ones have the meals they need and the people as very well.”
The Locker Challenge also presents snacks for students to consume for the duration of the day, Sargent mentioned.
Leah Siviski, an English trainer at South Portland High College, explained that the snacks aid “level the taking part in industry.”
“At the starting of the 12 months, for the duration of snack split, some little ones had snacks, some did not,” she stated. “Once I commenced getting treats from the Locker Task, I just went all-around with a basket of snacks, and nearly just about every university student took some thing. It’s critical to me that all young children have the energy they require in order to emphasis at university. Treats from the Locker Project aid with that. I’m so appreciative of the operate that they do for our local community.”
Considering the fact that the pandemic commenced, the require has enhanced, Sargent said. By altering the product, the Locker Task has been able to enhance the total of food stuff.
Investigate reveals that when young ones are hungry, they have a more durable time shelling out attention, Bowers explained.
“Food insecurity also goes along with greater health issues and poor attendance,” she claimed. “So for every little thing children will need to be successful in colleges, food items is important, and having enough diet is genuinely, seriously critical. The actuality that we can make much more wholesome food accessible to these youngsters and it is a dependable source and it also will help to feed their family members, it’s just greater for the local community as a entire, to have young ones and their people be potent and ready to master.”
For staff, it’s important to know that pupils are having the nourishment they will need, said South Portland Substantial College Assistant Principal Kim Bennett, who thanked the Locker Job.
“During a pandemic lecturers and faculty employees are working to juggle additional moving items than ever ahead of,” she reported. “Teachers get the job done to meet up with the demands of their pupils, which includes earning positive children are not hungry. By providing snacks the Locker Job is not only encouraging our learners — recognizing there are snacks out there for our students helps our lecturers know the wants of their pupils are remaining fulfilled.”