Maine DOE kicks off 2nd Annual Farm to School Cook-off

The Maine Department of Education is holding its 2nd annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off this month. The cook-off showcases the skills of local school food service staff, while promoting locally grown products in school meals.

School food service teams representing Falmouth, Yarmouth, RSU 14 – Windham/Raymond, Lewiston, RSU 52 – Turner, and RSU 54 – Skowhegan, will be participating in the event this year.

Last year’s participants were from Lewiston Public Schools, RSU 38 – Maranacook, Portland Public Schools, and RSU 61 – Lakes Region Schools, with the winning team from Five Town CSD/MSAD 28 & RSU 13 –Rockport, Camden, Rockland and surrounding towns.

For the competition, each team must prepare a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least two ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements as well as one USDA food. As an added twist Maine wild blueberries and Maine potatoes will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book.

This year, the regional cook-offs will be held on the March 27 at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and on March 31 at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta.

The final cook-off on April 26th will be held at the Freeport High School’s newly renovated kitchen and dining area.

Westbrook and Augusta CTE centers are returning hosts for the cook-off, while Freeport High School joins in for the first time. The locations were chosen as cook-off sites for their well-equipped kitchens and cooking and presentation areas.

A panel of judges for the two regional cook-offs will consist of a CTE culinary arts student, school nutrition director, and professional chef. The dishes will be scored based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program. Other criteria will include food safety and time management.

Judges for the final event will include a Freeport High School student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef. The winning team will be awarded a plaque and have the opportunity to be spokespeople for the second annual cook off in 2018.

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 any the events. We ask that you confirm you are coming ahead of time by contacting Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

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