In 2011 Katie Wallace, a parent of an East End Community School (EECS) student, was volunteering to help her daughter’s kindergarten teacher set up for snack time. Katie noticed that many of the kids didn’t have a snack and waited until snack time was over to rejoin their classmates. These students were hungry, yet there was nothing for them to eat.
Katie soon learned that these students’ families didn’t have the means to send snacks to school and began to deliver extra food to the classroom to make sure every child had a snack. Soon she was providing extra snacks for every EECS classroom.
In 2013, Good Shepherd Food Bank provided a $4,000 grant to help Katie set up a food pantry in the nurse’s office. The food bank offered to provide healthy pantry items at a discount and encouraged Katie to expand to more schools in Greater Portland.
In 2014, Katie Brown joined forces with Katie Wallace and, together with a founding board of community members, they formed the Locker Project. As executive director for the subsequent four years, Katie Brown forged relationships with dozens of community groups, local businesses, school staff, gardeners and volunteers to make the Locker Project a true community effort.
The simple act of ensuring every student in a single classroom had nourishing food at snack time has grown to 31 program sites serving thousands of children and families across Greater Portland.
With the help of 100+ volunteers and the continued partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank, the Locker Project now stocks 31 school pantries and distributes more than 15,000 lbs of rescued fresh produce, meats, eggs, and bread each month for students to take home and share with their families, improving the nutritional content of their diets and encouraging the preparation of fresh food at home.