It was great to have Kiwanis President and School Board Member Veronica Leigh Bates at our meeting on March 28. She introduced our speaker Katie Brown Executive Director of The Locker Project (TLP). The mission of TLP is to connect food-insecure children in Maine with nourishing food to improve their learning capacity, health, and future.

Starting as a grass roots pantry to help out at snack time at East End school in Portland, TLP now works with volunteers in 23 schools in the greater Portland area, including WHS. The pantry at WHS was started in October 2016 and it the first TLP pantry in Westbrook. Expansion to the middle school is being planned.


Most students are under 18, so cannot register at a food bank.  In addition, especially at the high school level, kids are too stigmatized to ask for food. To help get past this social discomfort, food has been distributed to various staff members around the school rather than being located in one central “pantry”.  This allows staff members to casually offer a “snack” to students when they see a need.

The Locker Project has a relationship with the Good Shepherd Food Bank that allows them to acquire excess fresh food from local grocery stores as well as goods directly from GSFB.  This partnership is available since TLP is registered as a non-profit organization and serves many schools where over 50% of students qualify for free or reduced price lunches.

Fresh produce provided by Hannaford and Shaws is displayed on tables in the cafeteria while school is in session.  An announcement is made before the end of school encouraging students to stop by and take home this donated produce. At first the kids were reluctant – afraid to take too much.  Now they understand that they should take what they need.

TLP can always use more volunteers! If you would like to help in Westbrook, you can contact Veronica Bates.  TLP is not yet in Gorham, but if you are interested in starting a program at one of the schools there, contact Katie through their website:

L-R: Veronica Bates, Katie Brown, Rev. Bill Chadwick