System provides households with balanced food items

The Locker Job was at South Portland Educational institutions meal distribution websites via the summer time, supplying people with groceries. Courtesy photo Kathryn Sargent

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Locker Task and the South Portland School Office have benefitted from a partnership together, assisting pupils and families proceed to have nutritious foods all 12 months.

Mostly serving South Portland, Portland and Westbrook, the nonprofit Locker Challenge delivers clean food, balanced staples to faculties, stated the organization’s site.

Starting in 2015, the Locker Project opened a college pantry at Kaler Elementary, then expanding to Brown, Memorial, Skillin and South Portland Substantial Faculty in 2016, Little and Mahoney in 2019 and Dyer in the slide of 2020, Kathryn Sargent, executive director, stated.

Ordinarily, the program shares college pantries with healthier staples, Sargent reported.

“That was the foundation for the unique program, and we also had been executing contemporary meals events wherever we rescue typically create from different supermarkets. We would have a often scheduled time that we’d go to a college and lay it all on a table,” she claimed. “The youngsters would all appear by way of and pack bags prior to the stop of the working day to just take household. Neither of those matters ended up feasible at the time all those educational institutions closed. Even when they reopened, no a single could obtain the pantries at educational institutions.”

When schools closed in March, the district commenced providing university foods at different web pages throughout South Portland, and the Locker Task partnered with food services workers to distribute groceries, Sargent mentioned.

“We have been bagging up food items and distributing it that way, so individuals would arrive to get college foods and they would be capable to get our luggage of groceries as perfectly,” she claimed. “That bag method has developed. We ongoing accomplishing it by way of the summer at the school meal web sites, and when educational institutions reopened, we improved it a minor bit to independent generate from staples mainly because make bags require a small more attention. If they’re held overnight, they need to have to be refrigerated and so forth.”

Now the Locker Project distributes eco-friendly baggage with make and purple luggage with staples to each and every college, the Redbank food web page and the Brickhill site, Sargent claimed.

The South Portland School Division has supported the system as nicely, securing funding for South Portland programing coordinator Courtney Bowers, who started in September, Sargent claimed. Bowers works with personnel and social personnel to ensure that learners and family members are receiving access to food items.

Gretchen McCloy, the school department’s director of neighborhood partnerships, has been a solid supporter of the Locker Challenge, Sargent mentioned.

“So they’ve performed a whole lot in phrases of speaking with school workers and making confident parents know the useful resource is out there,” she said. “They’ve furnished us with money aid, so they secured funding for Courtney’s posture for this year, which is super handy. There have been little grants that they’ve gotten for precise educational institutions or precise tasks, so they’ve been actually invested in it and dedicated to generating positive that children have the food items they have to have and the family members as nicely.”

The Locker Project also provides treats for pupils to consume in the course of the day, Sargent said.

Leah Siviski, an English instructor at South Portland Large Faculty, said that the treats aid “level the actively playing subject.”

“At the beginning of the calendar year, through snack split, some little ones had treats, some didn’t,” she claimed. “Once I begun acquiring treats from the Locker Challenge, I just went close to with a basket of snacks, and pretty much each university student took a thing. It is essential to me that all little ones have the electricity they need to have in purchase to concentrate at university. Snacks from the Locker Project support with that. I’m so appreciative of the get the job done that they do for our local community.”

Since the pandemic began, the need has improved, Sargent claimed. By shifting the model, the Locker Venture has been able to increase the quantity of foods.

Analysis shows that when kids are hungry, they have a more difficult time spending focus, Bowers mentioned.

“Food insecurity also goes together with amplified sickness and lousy attendance,” she claimed. “So for every little thing young ones will need to be thriving in schools, foodstuff is important, and acquiring enough nourishment is seriously, really critical. The simple fact that we can make extra healthful meals out there to these young children and it’s a reliable source and it also assists to feed their families, it is just superior for the group as a entire, to have young ones and their families be powerful and capable to learn.”

For employees, it is vital to know that learners are receiving the nourishment they need to have, reported South Portland Significant College Assistant Principal Kim Bennett, who thanked the Locker Job.

“During a pandemic academics and faculty team are functioning to juggle extra moving items than ever in advance of,” she stated. “Teachers get the job done to fulfill the desires of their students, such as earning absolutely sure young children are not hungry. By providing treats the Locker Undertaking is not only encouraging our pupils — being aware of there are snacks out there for our students can help our academics know the desires of their college students are remaining met.”

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