SOUTH PORTLAND — The Locker Challenge and the South Portland Faculty Section have benefitted from a partnership collectively, assisting college students and families carry on to have healthful foodstuff all yr.
Largely serving South Portland, Portland and Westbrook, the nonprofit Locker Task supplies fresh, nutritious food to colleges, explained the organization’s internet site.
Beginning in 2015, the Locker Venture opened a college pantry at Kaler Elementary, then growing to Brown, Memorial, Skillin and South Portland Higher University in 2016, Compact and Mahoney in 2019 and Dyer in the drop of 2020, Kathryn Sargent, executive director, stated.
Ordinarily, the application shares school pantries with fresh food items, Sargent claimed.
“That was form of the foundation for the original program, and we would also were doing the clean food stuff functions where we rescue mainly deliver from unique supermarkets and we would have a on a regular basis scheduled time that we’d go to a university and lay it all on a desk,” she reported. “The little ones would all occur as a result of and pack luggage right before the end of the working day to choose household. Neither of all those things ended up possible the moment people educational institutions closed at-huge. Even when they reopened, no a person could access the pantries at educational facilities.”
When educational institutions closed in March, the district commenced supplying college meals at several sites throughout South Portland, and the Locker Job partnered with meals service employees to distribute groceries, Sargent claimed.
“We were bagging up food items and distributing it that way, so persons would occur to get school foods and they would be ready to get our baggage of groceries as properly,” she stated. “That bag software has developed. We ongoing undertaking it as a result of the summertime at the college food web-sites, and when colleges reopened, we modified it a minimal bit to separate generate from staples for the reason that generate luggage have to have a very little far more attention. If they are held right away, they need to have to be refrigerated and so forth.”
Now the Locker Venture distributes environmentally friendly baggage with generate and purple bags with staples to every faculty, the Redbank meal internet site and the Brickhill internet site, Sargent stated.
The South Portland College Office has supported the plan as perfectly, securing funding for South Portland programing coordinator Courtney Bowers, who began in September, Sargent claimed. Bowers is effective with employees and social personnel to make sure that pupils and family members are receiving entry to meals.
Gretchen McCloy, the school department’s director of local community partnerships, has been a robust supporter of the Locker Task, Sargent reported.
“So they’ve completed a great deal of exertion in terms of speaking with school workers and producing sure dad and mom know the resource is accessible,” she explained. “They’ve delivered us with financial help, so they secured funding for Courtney’s posture for this yr, which is tremendous valuable. There have been small grants that they’ve gotten for precise educational facilities or distinct jobs, so they’ve been actually invested in it and dedicated to generating sure that young ones have the foodstuff they need to have and the people.”
The Locker Challenge also gives snacks for college students to consume through the working day, Sargent mentioned.
Leah Siviski, an English instructor at South Portland High University, explained that the snacks aid “level the playing industry.”
“At the starting of the calendar year, in the course of snack split, some children experienced treats, some did not,” she stated. “Once I started obtaining snacks from the Locker Job, I just went about with a basket of treats, and pretty much every scholar took anything. It is vital to me that all young ones have the strength they require in get to target at faculty. Snacks from the Locker Undertaking enable with that. I’m so appreciative of the function that they do for our group.”
The program has witnessed that due to the fact the pandemic commenced, the need has amplified, Sargent mentioned. By altering the product, the Locker Project has been equipped to increase the quantity of meals.
Investigate displays that when youngsters are hungry, they have a more challenging time having to pay interest, Bowers claimed.
“Food insecurity also goes along with enhanced disease and lousy attendance,” she reported. “So for anything youngsters need to be prosperous in educational facilities, meals is critical, and owning sufficient nutrition is genuinely, really critical. The simple fact that we can make extra healthy food stuff readily available to these young children and it’s a trusted source and it also can help to feed their families, it’s just greater for the community as a whole, to have little ones and their family members be robust and able to learn.”
For staff, it’s vital to know that students are obtaining the nourishment they want, claimed South Portland High College Assistant Principal Kim Bennett, who thanked the Locker Venture.
“During a pandemic lecturers and school staff members are doing the job to juggle more shifting pieces than ever prior to,” she mentioned. “Teachers work to meet up with the wants of their college students, including creating confident youngsters are not hungry. By giving snacks the Locker Job is not only encouraging our pupils — knowing there are treats accessible for our learners aids our academics know the needs of their pupils are remaining achieved.”