Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Locker Project establishes pantries in local high schools

Angelina Smith

Posted on May 02, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Angelina Smith, Contributor

In Maine, 1 out of 4 children are food-insecure, and in Portland and other locations in the state,it is often 3 out of 4 children.

Maine has the highest rate of child hunger in New England and the need for nutritious food for these hungry children is critical.

The Locker Project is a non-profit organization that creates and supports food pantries in schools, and helps meet the needs of children suffering from food insecurity in Maine.

The Locker Project began in 2011 when Katie Wallace, a volunteer and parent of a student at the East End Community School in Portland, noticed that some kids had to sit out during snack time and went hungry.

Wallace began to bring in snacks for these kids, and soon began a small food pantry with the help of the school nurse and a grant from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, so children could bring home food with them.

From there, the pantry expanded to other schools like Deering High School and Presumpscot Elementary School, and with collaboration with the Good Shepherd Food Bank, continues to provide food for students to eat as snacks at school or to take home with them.

In the future, the Locker Project plans to establish more food pantries in schools across the state of Maine in order to reach as many children as possible.

In coordination with the Locker Project, USM students in Professor Sharon Timberlake’s Honors course, A Cultural and Historical Perspective on Poverty, recently stuffed thirty bags with food for children to bring home with them from school to help them get through their vacation week, a time during which students who would normally be provided meals and snacks at school often go hungry.

The bags were enthusiastically filled with macaroni and cheese, soups, granola bars, breakfast cereal, and other foods, and carried to an awaiting van to be delivered to the school.

“I am thrilled that the students in HON 103 had an opportunity to provide emergency vacation food supplies to food insecure school children in Portland,” said Professor Timberlake.

While the class is interested in working for long term change, students recognize the importance of healthy food and good nutrition in the academic performance and overall health of young people.

USM students interested in getting involved with the Locker Project can help in all kinds of ways, such as organizing a food drive, starting an online donation drive, or assisting with tasks liking loading vans or delivering food.

Some foods that are particularly good for children to be able to bring home with them from school pantries are boxes of macaroni and cheese, pasta, pasta sauce, cans of soup, peanut butter, granola bars, cereal, tuna fish, rice, instant meals, beans, and canned fruit and vegetables.

You can even start your own food pantry, in your hometown or wherever you recognize a school in need of one, with the help of the Locker Project.

For more information about this, and the Locker Project in general, you can contact the Locker Project by calling 899-9540, emailing them at info@mainelockerproject.org, or finding them on Facebook through their website at mainelockerproject.org.