Cook-off promotes local foods in schools; a healthy competition

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education is promoting locally grown products in school meals by holding the first annual 2016 Maine Farm to School Cook-off.

The regional cook-offs will be held Wednesday, April 13 at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and Thursday, April 14 at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta. The final cook-off on May 17 will be held at the Kennebec Valley Community College, Harold Alfond Campus in Hinckley.

Each volunteer team will prepare two meals within a specific time frame using at least three ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book.

Food service staff representing RSU 61, Portland, Lewiston, RSU 38, Five-Town CSD and RSU 13 will participate in this year’s event. Westbrook and Augusta CTE centers along with KVCC were chosen as cook-off sites for their culinary arts facilities which include well-equipped kitchens and individual cooking and presentation areas.

A panel of judges for the regional cook-offs consists of a CTE culinary arts student, school nutrition director, and professional chef. They will score the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program.

For final judging, a Kennebec Valley Community College culinary arts student will join a school nutrition director and professional chef. The winning team will be awarded a plaque and have the opportunity to be spokespeople for the second annual cook off in 2017.

The cook-off is part of the State’s child nutrition projects and follows legislation to support healthy meals in schools. For more information on Maine’s Local Foods to Local Schools program, visit www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/localfoods/.

Members of the media are welcome to attend but need to confirm prior to the event. This event is NOT open to the public.

For more information and to confirm coverage, contact: Anne Gabbianelli at anne.gabbianelli@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

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