We are excited to announce that the Maine Farm to School Network has received a $25,000 USDA Farm to School Training Grant to build local food procurement capacity in Maine schools. Designed to increase the availability of local foods in schools, USDA Farm to School grants can help farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts. “This award will develop the capacity of Maine school food directors to purchase from and support Maine farmers,” comments Stephanie Cesario, Maine Farm to School Network Coordinator. “The funds will support local foods procurement training for food service directors across the state as well as network building,” she added.
The Maine Farm to School Network, in collaboration with other state farm to school advocates, will offer local procurement and network building trainings at the 2019 Maine Farm to School Conference being held at the Kennebec Valley Community College, Alfond Campus in Clinton, ME on October 3-4, 2019. The combined trainings count towards 7.25 contact hours for school nutrition professionals.
Maine schools are ramping up their local food purchasing to support local farms and the local economy, while making school meals fresher and more appealing! The pre-conference local procurement training on October 3rd will join Martine Cherry, USDA Team Lead and Procurement Specialist, and Abbie Nelson, Farm to School Program Director from Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) and NOFA-VT for a fun, interactive afternoon of digging into local food procurement rules and guidelines so schools can get the local foods they want! This hands-on workshop is designed for school nutrition directors, kitchen managers, business managers, and others responsible for school food purchasing.
This free, 3-hour training will explore topics such as micro purchasing, informal bid process, Buy American provision, purchasing thresholds, values-based buying, and the importance of relationship building with food producers. Participants will learn how to apply strategies to make the most of marketing tools like Maine Harvest of the Month, and reimbursement opportunities like the Local Produce Fund, to either start a local purchasing strategy or take it to the next level.
To register for the training and to learn more about the 2019 Maine Farm to School Conference and Maine’s Farm to School initiatives visit www.mainefarmtoschool.org/conference. A limited number of scholarships are available to support costs associated with attending the local procurement training.