Fighting Food Insecurity in Gorham, Maine!

To increase access to nutritious food for community members experiencing food insecurity.

Teachers across the state are finding that in too many instances they are forced to compete against hunger for the attention of their students. Gorham has not escaped that statistic. Approximately 20% of Gorham students qualify for free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch Program. In many cases, these meals are the fuel that get them through the week. What happens to these children when they go home over the weekend? Gorham’s BackPack Program provides children who are suffering the effects of chronic hunger with nutritious, easy-to-prepare food to eat during weekends and school vacations when those crucial school meals are unavailable. Aside from helping our students, there are up to 120 different clients at our food pantry each week. Nutritious fruit and vegetables are not always available and the garden addresses this need! Expanding our garden will allow us to donate more so every client has access to nutritious food.

The BackPack Program and School Garden provides food for students and families experiencing food insecurity in our community. We accomplish this by administering weekend food and school snack bags to needy students through the BackPack Program, offering a school food pantry at the high school, and by growing a school garden which provides fresh produce to our local food pantry during the growing season. The BackPack Program sends food home every weekend with students, who would otherwise not have enough food to last through the weekend. These students are also given a snack every day they are at school. To meet the needs of this program, we have to raise $25,000 annually. This grant, combined with the donations we receive, would fully fund our program for an entire year. In addition, the GMS Garden grows and donates up to 1,000 lbs of fresh vegetables EVERY YEAR to the food pantry. A grant would allow us to purchase a greenhouse so we can increase how much we donate to the pantry.

Good nutrition is essential for good health and success at school and beyond and The State Farm Grant will positively impact the needs of our community! Receiving this grant would have a tremendous impact on our initiatives. The BackPack Program would be fully funded for an entire year; money will be used to purchase the food for our Weekend Bags, Snack Bags, and expanding our services with the addition of a "Fruit Friday," a program that encourages students to eat fruit during snack on Friday. This grant will allow us to purchase this fruit for every participating student so they can join their peers in this health initiative. Additionally, our growing season in Maine is short! A greenhouse will expand our growing season, thus increasing our yield to the pantry, and allow more clients to have access to local, organic fruits and vegetables! The greenhouse will "pay it forward" for years to come!

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