New Law Gives Incentives for Schools to Use Local Foods

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce several changes to the Local Food Fund (formerly named the Local Produce Fund) which will be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year.

LD 636, An Act To Encourage the Purchase of Local Foods for Public Schools was signed by Governor Mills on July 8, 2021. The fund matches $1 for every $3 that a school administrative unit (SAU) pays for locally grown or produced foods purchased directly from a Maine producer or producer’s cooperative.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of the Legislature to expand the offerings available via the Local Food Fund,” said Adriane Ackroyd, Maine DOE Child Nutrition Supervisor. “Throughout the past school year, we have facilitated culinary demonstrations to equip local child nutrition professionals with the knowledge needed to skillfully implement local produce into the nutritious meals being offered to our students statewide.” Beginning in August, participating SAUs will notice several important local food fund programmatic updates, including:

  1. Eligible products now include value-added dairy and protein which may include: eggs, beef, yogurt, and tofu.
  2. A maximum reimbursement of $5,000 per SAU or $5,500 if the SAU sends a child nutrition professional to one of the DOE’s local foods trainings.

The Department of Education’s Child Nutrition program offers virtual and in-person local foods trainings. Participation in these trainings allows SAUs to tap into additional funds within the Local Foods Fund. These trainings are designed to be interactive and give school nutrition staff the confidence and motivation to utilize local ingredients in their school menus. Many of the trainings use recipes from the Harvest of the Month program, a state-wide campaign that helps promote the use of seasonally available local produces in schools and early child-care centers.

To learn more, contact Maine DOE Farm and Sea to School Coordinator Robin Kerber at robin.kerber@maine.gov.