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.

Hannaford Donates $1M to Support “Fuel Kids at School” Hunger Relief Efforts

Hannaford Supermarkets announced a $1 million donation as part of its new “Fuel Kids at School” initiative that is designed to directly address food insecurity and improve access to fresh and healthy food for children.

“Children can’t be at their best if they’re hungry—or thinking about where their next meal will come from. It is our hope that Fuel Kids at School will take us one step further in nourishing our communities, one child at a time,” said Mike Vail, President of Hannaford. “We want access to food to be easy for kids. Locating food pantries where they are—at their schools should make a lasting and deep impact on child nutrition across our five states.”

Hannaford, in partnership with area hunger relief organizations, will establish over two years, 90 school food pantries across Maine and other northeast states. In Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank received nearly $300,000 to establish school-based food pantries in 30 Head Start preschools throughout the state.

“The correlation between access to nutritious food and early childhood development and learning makes Head Start locations the ideal match for our next phase of school-based pantries,” said Kristen Maile, President of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “We know that expanding our pantry sites to serve pre-school-aged children and their families will play an important role in ensuring a bright future for Maine’s youngest citizens.”

Designed to serve as a vital and convenient resource to students and families in need while also increasing access to healthy and nutritious food, the in-school pantries are dedicated spaces where students can select food they enjoy according to preference and cooking abilities to provide nourishment both during the day and after the school day.

“The Fuel Kids at School funding, with its focus on Head Start programs, will enable us to make nutritious food readily available to more families at risk of hunger in the critical years before their children enter the public schools,” said Kathryn Sargent, Executive Director of the Locker Project.

The announcement took place in conjunction with a donation of $1,000 in school food pantry staples to the East End Children’s Workshop along with chef-prepared food for the parents and students at the local pre-school.

Hannaford Supermarkets has a longstanding commitment to supporting hunger relief in its communities. In 2018, Hannaford donated nearly 26 million pounds of food throughout the Northeast, including 5.3 million pounds in New York; and raised $1.1 million in partnership with its shoppers to feed individuals in need through the annual Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger program. Earlier this month, Hannaford announced that it has donated more than $1 million to non-profits throughout New York and New England as a result of its reusable bag program, a portion of which is dedicated to hunger relief organizations and has funded more than 1.8 million meals to date.

Manchester School of RSU 14 in Windham Celebrates National Farm to School Movement

Students, teachers, school garden coordinators, and school nutrition staff from Manchester School in RUS 14 along with representatives from The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry and the Maine Department of Education participated in a day of activities to celebrate growing, harvesting and eating local food on Monday November 4th.

The event included education about the importance of local food and the relationship schools are developing with local farmers to provide fresh, quality fruits, vegetables, and produce to Maine schools. Students worked with recently harvested carrots from their school garden to prep, cook, and sample fresh carrot curry soup and carrot muffins.

A fixture at the Manchester School for the past 20 years, the School Garden has become a big part of the community providing fresh produce for the school nutrition program, local shelters, as well as students, staff, and community members who provide a helping hand in keeping the garden going.

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To optimizing the growing season, the Garden features a hoop house and raised beds that allow students and school staff to grow fresh produce for almost the entire year-round. The Garden is also rooted in the curriculum, providing a bases for many lessons from science to English, and community development. “The learning continues even though we’re not out in the soil,” said Stacy Sanborn, 4th Grade Teacher and School Garden Coordinator. Staff members from the Manchester School wrote grants and utilized local volunteers, and local experts to put the hoop house in place, and it has been a huge success for them.

It was an exciting day of activities drawing TV cameras and photographers to capture students happily engaged in chopping, cooking, and learning for the very purpose of celebrating a moment that is quickly moving across Maine. The Manchester School in Windham is one of the more than 400 Maine schools that participate in a farm-to-school program.

The collaboration between the Department of Education and The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry continues this fall. The two departments are producing a series of public service announcements to showcase how more Maine farms can establish relationships and sell their produce to Maine schools.

For more information about the Farm-to-School Program, please visit this website.

 

 

Maine DOE Hosts First School Vegetable Prep-Culinary Training in Culinary Classroom

Last week, the Maine Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Team hosted its very first hands-on training in the newly built Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom.

Maine Schools in attendance had the opportunity to learn from Child Nutrition Chef Michele Bisbee about different steps they could take to prep vegetables more efficiently. During the class, participants learned how to use small equipment that can help speed up kitchen preparation.

The class also worked on developing skills that will help save time in the kitchen, enabling them to focus on providing more meals that have been cooked from scratch.

Maine Officially Launches Harvest of the Month Program

The Maine Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Program is excited to announce the official launch of Maine’s Harvest of the Month (HOM) Program. The program was piloted in schools in Spring 2019 with participation from over 165 schools state-wide. The full roll out of the program begins this fall for School Year 2020.

PROGRAM BACKGROUND

Harvest of the Month (HOM) is a nationwide marketing campaign promoting the use of seasonally available, local products in schools, institutions, and communities. Each month, a different local product is highlighted and participating entities pledge to serve the product and promote it through educational materials and activities. The program launched in California and has been replicated by dozens of other states across the country. With Maine’s participation, all New England states now have Harvest of the Month programs.

FARMERS AND LOCAL PRODUCERS

One of the major goals of the Maine HOM program is to support Maine farmers and producers, and therefore Maine’s local economy. To help School Food Service Directors successfully source each month’s product, a list of participating producers has been created to help them connect with local farmers, providers, and distributors. Farmers and producers who provide HOM products to schools have the chance to be highlighted on the DOE website, HOM social media, etc. We would like to add more producers to the list for School Year 2020!

SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE

Participating School Food Service Directors are asked to take a pledge to serve the monthly HOM product at least two times per month in their cafeterias. In addition to this, they pledge to display HOM promotional materials, such as posters, fun facts, and stickers for students who have tried the HOM product. Featured recipes are also provided each month. They also agree to participate in evaluations so that local produce procurement can be tracked and to analyze the success of the program. Local products may be sourced directly from farms, farmer cooperatives, and distributors. When buying produce directly from a farm or farmer cooperative, School Food Service Directors may take advantage of the Local Produce Fund, which reimburses $1 for every $3 spent on local produce.

Agriculture and Education in Partnership

The Maine Department of Education and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry have been exploring more ways to connect farmers and food producers with their local school districts. “School food service programs and local farms can go hand and hand, which is why the Maine Bureau of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is pleased to collaborate with DOE’s Harvest of the Month program,” according to Nancy McBrady, Director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources.  “This program allows participating schools to purchase local, nutritious foods which helps boost farm incomes while educating students about local agriculture.  The program directly links School Food Service Directors with participating farmers and producers in their community and the Bureau is thrilled that the Local Produce Fund can assist School Food Service Directors in ordering even more local produce.  The Bureau encourages local producers to sign up to be a Harvest of the Month source for schools today!”

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BEING A HOM SOURCE FOR SCHOOLS,

CONTACT:

Robin Kerber
Farm and Sea to School Coordinator
robin.kerber@maine.gov

OR SIGN UP HERE ( www.maine.gov/doe/harvestofthemonth/producers)