Maine celebrates Farm to School with local Harvest Week menu contest

Maine schools showed culinary creativity in their entries to the state’s inaugural Harvest Lunch Week menu contest, sponsored by the Maine DOE.

Schools were invited to submit a menu from a meal that was served to students during the designated Maine Harvest Lunch Week in late September that reflected the “Dig Into Local School Meals” theme. The menu and photos of three students’ meals presented on lunch trays were submitted to the Department to be considered in the contest.

After considering each entry based on the description of local items, creative use of local products, total number of local products on the tray and overall appearance, the field was narrowed down to the following three Maine Harvest Lunch Week finalists:

Mount Desert Elementary School’s menu featured fresh Maine lobster salad over organic baby greens with oven roasted tomatoes, locally grown apple crisp with cinnamon and raisins, a whole grain roll and fruit.

Yarmouth School Department’s seasonal spread featured Sloppy Joe’s made with Maine Beef, local beets, carrots, apples and potato salad.

Portland Public School’s entry showcased a roasted chicken drumstick from Maine-Ly Poultry Chicken, honey roasted kale from Snell Family Farm in Buxton and Spring Break Maple and Honey in Smyrna, lentil salad with carrots from Lakeside Family Farm in Newport, local bell pepper slices, apples from Lakeside Orchards in Fairfield and a whole wheat roll from Amato’s in Westbrook.

The top three selections will receive free entry to the 2015 Tri-State Child Nutrition Conference in May along with a copy of Project Bread’s Let’s Cook Healthy School Meals cookbook, donated specifically for the contest. All contest participants received a certificate of recognition at a Fall Informational Meeting on Oct. 16 in appreciation for their celebration of Maine-grown products.

A true community effort, preparing for the contest strengthened relationships at the local level, with some producers and local business donating to schools who featured local items on their harvest menus.

For more information on Maine Harvest Lunch Week, please contact Maine DOE School Nutrition Education Specialist Stephanie Stambach at stephanie.stambach@maine.gov or 624-6732.