Organizations Needed to Feed Hungry Children this Summer

AUGUSTA — With the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine public schools have long offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch meal program to thousands of income eligible children in Maine during the school year. To extend this program, Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition (Maine DOE) is seeking organizations who would like to participate in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides children healthy meals when school is not in session.

“Schools do not just offer a safe place for learning, for too many Maine families, they are also the only consistent and reliable source for food. The Summer Food Service Program is an invaluable resource to our students and their families during the summer months, when they might otherwise find themselves food insecure,” said Maine Commissioner of Education, Pender Makin.

“The needs of the whole child must be addressed, and the school and community partnerships that ensure our children are fed are vital to helping combat the stress and hunger that can negatively impact student health and learning.”

In 2019, 122 sponsors participated in the program, serving meals at 467 sites throughout the state. Although there are sponsors operating in every county in Maine, there is still a long way to go towards feeding all eligible children during the summer. Community partners are working to maximize the number of sponsors utilizing the availability of funds under the SFSP.

SFSP may be offered statewide in areas or at sites where more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced meal benefits under the National School Lunch Program or census track data supports the need.  Organizations that provide services in rural communities or near migrant farm workers and tribal populations are urged to participate. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations.

Maine DOE encourages any eligible organization to consider providing this much-needed service to Maine children. The agency will begin accepting applications to participate in February. Approved sponsors will be reimbursed for eligible meals served to children during the long summer break.

Interested organizations should begin planning now for a successful summer. Potential sponsors are required to attend training sessions. For a complete schedule of trainings, please visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/nutrition/resources/calendar. Maine DOE is available to attend meetings or consult by phone and email to answer questions regarding summer meals.

For more information about the Maine DOE’s Summer Food Service Program, contact adriane.ackroyd@maine.gov, call 624-6726 or visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/nutrition/programs/sfsp.

 

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Federal

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)      fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)      email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

State

The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, religion, ancestry or national origin.

Complaints of discrimination must be filed at the office of the Maine Human Rights Commission, 51 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0051.

If you wish to file a discrimination complaint electronically, visit the Human Rights Commission website at https://www.maine.gov/mhrc/file/instructions and complete an intake questionnaire. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

 

 

Windham High School Robotics Club has a Successful First Year

Submitted by Lanet Hane, Director of Community Connections, RSU14.

Michelle Lane has brought her love of robotics with her to Windham High School. Ms. Lane is in her second year teaching computer science with the district, coming to us from Biddeford. While there, she led the robotics club to a number of successful years.

Ms. Lane was eager to continue her work with students and robotics, and it is out of that desire that the WHS Robotics Club was born.

The club consists of a small number of students, grades 9-12, who have a passion for robotics, programming, and computers. Students meet after school twice a week to construct and adapt their robots in the pursuit of victory at their robotics meets.

“We started with building 1 bot and attended a competition at York High School. During that competition the team competed in the individual skills competition and earned enough points to qualify for states. The team received a grant to purchase a second robot kit with a stipulation that we needed to have another robot to compete with by the end of the season.”

The students are currently working on making their second robot operational and hope to utilize it in future meets.

Victoria Lin, a freshman at WHS, says of the club, “At first, it was intimidating. I was very unfamiliar with the tools and how the competitions work. But over time I watched and learned. Before I knew it, I was designing and building a robot! The thing I love about robotics is the logic problems. You don’t need to be a math wiz or some kind of master mechanic, all you need is the motivation to get involved.”

As funding becomes available for additional robots and supplies, Ms. Lane hopes to expand the club to meet the growing need for increased IT and computer science opportunities.

The team has three meets remaining before the state championship in March. The state championship will be held at The Point Community Center in South Portland on March 14th, beginning at 9:30am.

Maine FFA State Officers Attend Maine Agricultural Trades Show

Pictured: Maine FFA State Officers Ava Cameron (Secretary-Treasurer), Graham Berry (President) and Camryn Curtis (Vice President) stand above the many agricultural organization displays for the 2020 Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

Student State Officers of the Maine FFA Association—formerly known as “Future Farmers of America,” with name changed simply to “FFA” to reflect increased diversity in agriculture including horticulture, natural resource management and other areas—participated in the 2020 Maine Agricultural Trades Show at the Augusta Civic Center on January 14th & 15th.

Maine FFA State President, Graham Berry, State Vice President, Camryn Curtis, and State Secretary-Treasurer, Ava Cameron, toured the many displays showcasing organizations and growers involved in Maine agriculture.  Accompanied by their State FFA Advisor, Doug Robertson, from the Maine Department of Education, student Officers were impressed by the extent of agricultural entities and opportunities.  They also attended the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Luncheon, with guest speaker Governor Mills, as well as a legislative reception hosted by the Maine Potato Board, and held a meeting for interested students from prospective Maine FFA chapter Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, Hinckley.

Maine’s State FFA Officer team was pleased to see in attendance at the Trades Show representatives from so many of their active sponsors including the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, Farm Credit East, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Maine State Grange, Hammond Tractor, Maine Beef Producer’s Association, and many others.

Maine FFA provides leadership trainings, competitions and awards to students grades 7 to 12 enrolled in courses related to agriculture and natural resources, including science courses with practical applications through school gardens and greenhouses.  Maine FFA is affiliated with the National FFA Organization, the largest youth leadership organization in the United States.

For more information on establishing a local FFA chapter, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Maine Department of Education, doug.robertson@maine.gov  (207) 624-6744.

Maine DOE Launches Culinary Video Series to Support School Nutrition Programs

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), in collaboration with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, recently launched two sets of videos to help support Maine school nutrition programs around the state. Links to the two sets of videos are available below:

  • Farm to School Videos – showcase the partnerships between farms and schools in an effort to grow the Farm to School movement.
  • Culinary Videos – assist school nutrition professionals in scratch cooking and utilizing local products. The videos can help build culinary skills in a variety of areas such as fruit and vegetable preparation, food safety, time management, and using local ingredients in school recipes.

The Team plans to continue building the video series by incorporating Maine dairy and seafood, among other proteins, in school recipes as well as other educational videos in the near future.

The Department would like to extend a special thank you to the people who made these videos a success:

  • Chef Samantha Gasbarro (Consultant)
  • Mike Flynn (School Nutrition Director for RSU 12)
  • Alisa Roman (School Nutrition Director for Lewiston Public Schools)
  • Chef Heidi Parent (Culinary Arts Instructor from Capital Area Technical Center)
  • Josh Girard (Girard Farm)
  • Kelby Young (Olde Haven Farm)
  • Trent Emery (Emery Farm)
  • Ryan Roderick (Chef and Wellness Coordinator for RSU 14)
  • Justin Deri (School Garden and Greenhouse Manager from Falmouth Schools)
  • Martha Poliquin (School Nutrition Director, Falmouth Schools)

In addition to the videos, the Child Nutrition Team also offers in-person and webinar trainings. The next culinary training will be on February 21st and will be geared towards new and trending school breakfast ideas. Check out all their training opportunities in the Child Nutrition calendar, you can also stay up-to-date on child Nutrition news by joining the Child Nutrition email list.

All of the the videos are available on the Maine DOE’s website here: www.maine.gov/farmtoschool. For more information about the Farm-to-School Program, please visit this website.

50+ School and District Leaders Come Together to Enhance Student Support and Instructional Practice

Collaboration and support was the primary focus of three recent technical assistance session held in Ellsworth, Brewer, and Augusta between 50+ school and district leadership teams and the Maine DOE ESEA Federal Program team members.

During the half day sessions, the 100+ participants worked alongside DOE staff, including school leadership coaches, to explore innovative approaches to leveraging federal funds through blending and braiding of ESEA Federal Program allocations, school-wide authority, and additional Title I school improvement funds to supplement and enhance current student support and instructional practice.

“We had great turnout, great conversation, and enthusiasm at these meetings and we are encouraged as we move forward,” said Janette Kirk, Maine DOE Chief of Learning Systems.