Priority Notice: School Nutrition Benefits for Families Impacted by Federal Shutdown

With the federal shutdown impacting numerous Mainers, the Maine Department of Education wants to remind school districts that applications for free and reduced-price meals may be submitted at any time throughout the school year, even during a federal shutdown. If federal employees impacted by the shutdown would like to apply for school meal benefits for their children, they may so do through their local school district.

To apply – A special application can be downloaded from the Maine Department of Education’s website (linked below) and submitted to your local school’s food service program.

Download printable meal benefit application (PDF)

School administrators should be aware that this is a federal application so it may look unfamiliar but please accept and process it as you would your current meal benefit applications. Please also be aware that Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition office is also releasing information to remind food service staff that parents can apply for meal benefits for their children at any time.

For more information, contact Walter Beesley, Child Nutrition Director, Maine Department of Education at Walter.Beesley@maine.gov or 624-6875.

Maine DOE to Launch Maine Harvest of the Month Program in Schools

The Maine Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Program is excited to announce the launch of Maine’s Harvest of the Month Program. Currently in planning phases, the program is slated to launch in schools in the Spring of 2019. Jenn So has been hired by the Maine DOE as the Harvest of the Month Program Manager and will be leading the development, implementation, and trainings for the program statewide. This program is a collaboration between the Maine DOE Child Nutrition Program and the Maine Farm to School Network.

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 of New England will now have Harvest of the Month programs.

Maine Harvest of the Month Background 

In its pilot year, Maine’s HOM program will develop a unique Maine HOM crop calendar and create corresponding marketing materials and recipes for food service directors and schools to display and utilize. Regional trainings will be delivered to train food service staff and other interested stakeholders on how to best implement the program; support will be provided to schools as needed. The program’s goal is to increase the procurement and consumption of local Maine products in schools (K-12), and thus the total number of meals provided. To participate in the program, schools will sign a  pledge committing to: serve the local HOM product at least twice per month (local being defined as grown or caught in Maine); display HOM materials provided by the Child Nutrition office; and participate in pre-and post-evaluations. Schools are also encouraged to integrate the HOM into educational activities.

If your school or district is interested in participating, please contact Jenn So at jenn.so@maine.gov or 207-624-6639 for more information.

Professional Standards for School Nutrition Professionals and Training Opportunities

As a reminder, the Federal School Food Service Professional Standards took effect July 1, 2015 and impacts the hiring process for new School Food Service Directors or staff members that are responsible for food service director duties and were hired after July 1, 2015.

School districts are asked to notify Maine Department of Education’s Child Nutrition staff of any School Food Service Directors leaving. Directors in place on or before June 30, 2015 are grandfathered in their position. Districts only need to meet the updated requirements for hiring a new director.

The professional standards require a combination of education and experience, and necessitate school food service employees stay current by requiring education credits be met each year. The amount of education credits varies with position and hours worked. View the Professional Standards for School Food Service.

Training offered by Maine DOE Child Nutrition team includes the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) training and Summer Food Service Program trainings, monthly webinars, regional meetings and workshops.

Take advantage of these trainings to acquire your continuing education hours. All trainings offered by Maine DOE Child Nutrition team will be posted on the Child Nutrition Resources web page and on the Maine DOE Professional Development and Training Calendar.

For more information contact Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition Director Walter Beesley at walter.beesley@maine.gov or call 624-6875.

MEDIA RELEASE: Student Nutrition Continues Beyond School Year with Summer Food Service Program

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 children in Maine during the school year. With summer right around the corner, it’s time to think about keeping children healthy while school is out. The Summer Food Service Program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, operates at hundreds of sites across Maine to ensure children get the nutrition they need when school is out.

“The National School Lunch Program is an important element of the Maine public school system’s dedication to providing a healthy learning environment for students, and we are equally dedicated to ensuring that healthy environment can be extended to them even when school is not in session through the Summer Food Service Program,” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr.

“This program seeks to address a clear health need during the summer months wherever it may be evident in Maine, and while it has been successful in doing so in the past, the Department expects that increased participation this summer will further foster this success and, as a result, the continued health of Maine students.”

The Summer Food Service Program 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. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations.

In 2017, 120 sponsors participated in the program, serving meals at 438 sites throughout the state. In 2018, these numbers are expected to grow. The 2018 program begins statewide today, Monday, June 18. Sponsors operate open sites in all 16 counties in Maine; anyone 18 and under may come to eat at no cost. To find nearby Summer Meal sites, please visit USDA’s Summer Meal Site Finder website at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks, text “Summer Meals” to 97779 or call Maine 211. Information is available mid-June.

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

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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 ere they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, heard 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 discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint 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.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. In accordance with State law this institution is prohibited from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs)

To file a complaint of discrimination, write Maine Human Rights Commission, 51 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0051. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Schools Selected for 2019 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)

Schools selected to participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for School Year 2019 have been released.

For a list of awarded schools please visit the Child Nutrition website here. A total of 156 schools were selected to participate. School Year 2019 funding for the program will begin on October 1, 2018.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides all children in participating schools with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost during the school day. The FFVP introduces children to a variety of produce that they might otherwise not have the chance to try. Eligible schools wishing to participate must submit an annual application to the Child Nutrition office.

For more information on FFVP please contact Stephanie Stambach, Child Nutrition Consultant at stephanie.stambach@maine.gov or 624-6732.