Yarmouth Wins Maine DOE 2018 Farm to School Cook-off

Congratulations to the school food service teams that participated in the 2018 Farm to School Cook-off: RSU 54, RSU 3, Cherryfield, Falmouth, Yarmouth, and Lewiston. Teams competed in different locations on April 5th, 9th and May 14th.

The annual cook-off is a voluntary, skills-based competition offered to school food service staff from all school districts across the State of Maine. The goal of the program is to recognize school nutrition staff for their skills and creativity while producing high-quality meals that can be replicated in a school kitchen. Read more about the events.

Below are some images captured during the final cook-off.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Maine Farm to School Cook-off final is today at KVCC

What:
2018 Maine Farm to School Cook-Off final. Read more about the Maine Department of Education’s annual Maine Farm to school Cook-off.

Who:
School food service staff and students creating breakfast and lunch meal. The winning teams from the two regional cook-off’s held in April will compete in the final cook-off.
Judges for the regional cook-offs include a student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef.

Where/When: 
Monday, May 14
Kennebec Valley Community College
Harold Alfond Campus, Averill Building, Hinckley, ME (campus map)
1:00pm start time (cooking begins promptly at 1:30pm)
Teams are representing RSU 54 and Yarmouth Public Schools

How:
Each volunteer team, consisting of one school food service staff and one student, will prepare a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least two ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements as well as one USDA food. Locally caught pollock and yogurt will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the competition for further questions contact, Director of Communications Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

Maine DOE to host Farm to School Cook-off on April 5th and 9th

What:  The Maine Department of Education will host its Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-Off, a voluntary, skills-based competition offered to school food service staff from all school districts across the State of Maine. The goal of the program is to recognize school nutrition staff for their skills and creativity while producing high-quality meals that can be replicated in a school kitchen.

During the competition, each volunteer team prepares a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least two ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements as well as one USDA food. Locally caught pollock and yogurt will be used as challenge ingredients in the competition this year.

Who: Teams consist of local school food service staff and students, judges for the regional cook-offs include a student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef, and representatives from Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition team will also be present.

When/ where: The regional cook-offs will be held on three dates. Two cook-offs in different locations in the State and then a final cook-off event where the winners of the first two cook-offs will compete.

Thursday, April 5 from 10:00am – 1:30pm
Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, Bath, ME
10:00am start time (cooking begins promptly at 10:30am)
Teams are representing Falmouth, Yarmouth and Lewiston

Monday, April 9 from 1:00pm – 4:30pm
Hampden Academy, Hampden, ME
1:00pm start time (cooking begins promptly at 1:30pm)
Teams are representing RSU 54, RSU 3 and Cherryfield

The Date and location for the final Farm to School Cook-off will be determined after the are to be determined.

Please RSVP: For more information including a detailed agenda, and to RSVP, media should contact the Maine Department of Education Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

Due to space limitations, these competitions are not open to the public; however, arrangements can be made by contacting Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at stephanie.stambach@maine.gov.

Upcoming Summit focused on local foods for schools, hospitals, colleges and more

Maine Farm to Institution and the Maine Farm to School Network will be hosting the 2018 Maine Farm to Institution Summit in Belfast’s UMaine Hutchinson Center on February 9, from 7:30 am to 5 pm. This all-day event for those interested in cultivating an equitable and resilient Maine food system is open to everyone.

MEFTI Steering Committee member and Summit lead organizer Riley Neugebauer said, “We’re excited about the range of presenters and the variety of topics that will be covered. Since there will be over 60 presenters at the event, we think that there will be something for everyone, from those who consider themselves beginners in the field, to those who understand or have participated in farm to institution efforts at an advanced level.”

Renee Page, involved in the leadership of both MEFTI and the Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN), and Assistant Director of Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, said that this is a new initiative for the organization; in previous years, the Maine Farm to School Network took the lead on facilitating similar conferences that focused solely on farm to school. In order to reflect a broader vision of farm to institution efforts across the state and to ease the financial/organizational burden on the volunteer-led farm to school network, MEFTI joined with MFSN to organize the upcoming Summit, and to expand the program and outreach into additional sectors such as healthcare, colleges & universities, and prisons.

At the Summit, the planning committee members will gather institutional food service staff, farmers, fishermen, distributors, government agency staff, nonprofits and others to inspire and energize the network through sharing best practices and innovative strategies; and to strengthen collective impact by engaging food producers, educators, decision makers, leaders, and policymakers in shared problem solving.

Page said, “We see the Summit as an opportunity to expand the ongoing conversation around the farm to institution vision and hope that it will forge stronger and more comprehensive relationships among stakeholders, as well as lead to statewide business partnerships and strategic policy change.”

Organizers anticipate that attendees will leave with new skills, new perspectives, new partnerships, the inspiration to set and achieve bolder goals for Maine’s food system, and a clear understanding of the need for and relevancy of farm to institution efforts in Maine.

The welcome and opening remarks for the event begin at 8:45 am, with the event closing at 5 pm. Registration is $40; to register, or for more information about the event, please visit www.mainefarmtoinstitution.org/registration. Organizers encourage attendees to register online before the event at this link, but will accept walk-in registrations as well. The UMaine Hutchinson Center is located at 80 Belmont Avenue (Route 3) in Belfast.

In case of inclement weather, a snow date is set for Monday, February 12th at the UMaine Hutchinson Center. To find out if the event has been postponed, information will be posted on the website www.mainefarmtoinstitution.org and on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/534118093604257/.

Planning committee members would like to thank the following major sponsors of the event: Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Sodexo, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, MaineHealth, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, Farm to Institution New England, and UMaine Cooperative Extension. Additional sponsors include: Maine Farmland Trust, Let’s Go!, HealthCare Without Harm, USM Food Studies Program, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, MOFGA, Lakeside Farms, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Fedco, Farm Fresh Connection, Heiwa Tofu, PFG Northcenter, Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative, Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods, Healthy Acadia, Maine General Medical Center, Oakhurst Dairy, PJ Merrill Seafood, Crave Food Services, Maine Grains, Grandy Oats, Bates College Dining, VitaminSea, and The Maine Meal. Event partners include FoodCorps Maine, Maine School Garden Network, Maine Department of Education, and the Maine Network of Community Food Councils.

For further information contact Renee Page, Maine Farm to Institution/Maine Farm to School Network/Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, r.page@hccame.org (207-588-5347)

Maine Farm to Institution is a multi-sector network of people from across the state interested in increasing institutional purchasing of local foods.

 

MEDIA RELEASE: 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, the Child Nutrition team at the Maine Department of Education (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.

“It is imperative that we continue expanding this tremendous program to ensure that children have the benefit of free and healthy meals from the program all year long, no matter where they live in our state,” said Maine Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr.

In 2017, 120 sponsors participated in the program, serving meals at 438 sites throughout the state. Although the program continues to grow 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.

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. Organizations that provide services in rural communities or near migrant farm workers and American Indian 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 http://www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/resources/events.html. 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 http://www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/sfsp/index.html.

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