Maine DOE team member Robin Kerber is being highlighted as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Robin in the question and answer below.
What are your roles with DOE?
I work with Maine schools and farmer/producers/fishermen to get more Maine food into our schools. I’m part of the Maine Farm to School Network and manage the Harvest of the Month program, a statewide initiative challenging schools and child care sites to highlight a different local ingredient each month. I really love my job because I get to use my background in Culinary Arts to help education school nutrition staff on how to cook with Maine ingredients, and I also get to help support our farmers by connecting them to new markets.
What do you like best about your job?
Exposing our school nutrition staff to more local ingredients and helping them gain the skills and confidence to incorporate them on their menus. We are so lucky to have farmers and producers that grow and raise a huge variety of food for us! We recently partnered with a nonprofit that works to support our fishermen, and schools and childcare sites received free locally-caught fish! It directly supported the fishermen and it was so fun to work with nutrition directors and staff to come up with recipes that the students would like. It was the perfect marriage of supporting our local economy and feeding healthy, nutritious food to our kids!
How or why did you decide on this career?
I went to The Culinary Institute of America for Baking and Pastry, then Drexel University for Restaurant Management. I spent about a decade working in kitchens across the US, and eventually found that growing food was just as satisfying as cooking it – and a little less cutthroat. I began working on a variety of different farms including produce, dairy, livestock, and even fishing. I think this varied background and understanding of Maine’s different farming sectors prepared me to work with farm to school programs in the state.
What do you like to do outside of work for fun?
I stay busy restoring my 1800’s farmhouse and land with many homesteading projects. I love to travel more than anything, and am training to become an international trip leader (side gig, I won’t be leaving my job for it!) and currently lead local backpacking and skiing trips.