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Local Partners Address Youth Food Insecurity with In-School Pantries

This is a reprint of an article published on  All writing credits on this page to Inside Lowell and thanks for the coverage!

Lowell, MA – Recognizing the growing issue of food insecurity among local children and youth, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) has partnered with Catie’s Closet and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB) to establish five school-based food pantries, known as Mill Markets, in Lowell Public Schools.

GLCF’s Youth Food Insecurity Initiative was launched in 2021 and expanded on a pilot food pantry set up at Lowell High School in 2017 by a group of LHS students. These new, GLCF-supported Mill Markets are well-organized and stocked with culturally appropriate foods that appeal to students. They are located at Lowell High School (B House), Bartlett Community Partnership School, Freshman Academy at LHS, Frederic T. Greenhalge Elementary School, and Joseph G. Pyne Arts Magnet School.

“After conducting a regional survey about youth food insecurity, and examining the barriers that can prevent kids and teens from accessing nutritious food, the Foundation learned that a lot of need could be alleviated by establishing and maintaining in-school food pantries,” explained Jay Linnehan, GLCF President and CEO.

“So, we turned to two of our trusted local nonprofit partners — Catie’s Closet and Merrimack Valley Food Bank — to help implement our vision of bringing healthy, shelf-stable food directly to youth in their schools.”

Enlisting the assistance of MVFB and Catie’s Closet made sense, as both nonprofits are already addressing the needs of low-income students in the Lowell schools. Through Operation Nourish, Merrimack Valley Food Bank supplies food for 1,200 students a month in Greater Lowell and Lawrence. And Catie’s Closet provides clothing and toiletries to students through its in-school Closets, which are set up like retail stores, where students can “shop” for items, free of charge.

Local Partners Address Youth Food Insecurity with In-School Pantries