REMINDER: USDA Food Orders Due on February 22nd

School Food Service Departments across the state are busy entering the orders for USDA food for School Year 2022.  It is hard to believe we are in the process of ordering food for next school year! This is a friendly reminder that the USDA food orders are due by noon on February 22nd.

Directions to place food orders in the new CNPweb system are posted on our web page here: https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/nutrition/programs/fd. Once orders are placed, the Department will submit them to USDA for the bidding/purchasing process for Maine.

Thank you and great job to those that have completed the USDA food ordering process already.

If you have any questions or need support in this process, contact Maine DOE Child Nutrition at 207-624-6822.

Maine DOE Child Nutrition Team Announces Initial Transition to New Software Program to Streamline Claiming, Ordering, Applications, and Review

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) Child Nutrition Team is excited to announce that a new software program called CNPWeb will launch this week and begin to replace NEO for all School Nutrition functions. CNPWeb will streamline the claiming, ordering, annual application and review process for all of the Child Nutrition programs: School Nutrition, Food Distribution, Summer Food Service and Child & Adult Care Food Program.

The new CNPWeb software will transition over, starting with the Food Distribution Program (FDP), also known as USDA Food on 2/4/2021.

  • All districts will need to submit a FDP application for approval and locations of delivery in CNPWeb.  A webinar will be offered Tuesday, February 9th at 9:30am (register here) – This webinar will be recorded and available on Child Nutrition Training Webpage.  Additional material and resources will be on the CNPWeb web page and in our weekly Child Nurtition listserv updates.  This is in preparation for completing the annual USDA Foods order opening February 12, 2021. Applications must be in and approved to get a fair share of the USDA Food money before February 12th.  All orders must be placed for SY22 food by February 22, 2021 to meet the USDA purchase deadline.

The remaining Child Nutrition programs are anticipated to transition to the new CNPWeb system during the spring of SY22.

Please make sure your School Department’s Food Service Director is aware of this message.  It is important to meet the deadline for the federal food service programs so that all schools to get their fair share of money. More information can be found on the Maine CNPWeb web page https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/nutrition/programs/fd or by contacting the Maine DOE Child Nutrition Office.

Maine DOE Child Nutrition Team Provides USDA with Virtual Tour of Culinary Classroom

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) Child Nutrition team provided a virtual tour and presentation of its Culinary Classroom recently in an effort to showcase to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) how the classroom has benefited Maine schools since its initial launch in September of 2019 

USDA helped fund the project as a way to improve Maine DOE’s capacity to provide Maine schools with additional skills and training with preparation and cooking as part of the national school meal programs administered through Maine DOE. 

camera angle looking from aboveThe call featured Maine DOE Chef Michele Bisbee and Maine DOE Director of Child Nutrition Walter Beesley who provided national representatives with a virtual tour of the culinary classroom including a look around the kitchen, a demonstration of how the equipment is used, and the various angles the state-of-the-art cameras can provideThe kitchen and its ability to present virtually and record provides multiple options for in-personvirtual, and online learning opportunities for school nutrition staff statewide. 

Participants from the USDA included Administrator Pam Miller along with Kurt Messner, Regional Administrator from Northeast Regional Office; Christine Ruggieri, Deputy Regional Administrator; Cheryl Fogerty, Special Nutrition Division DirectorMartine Cherry, Schools Branch Chief; and Jan Kallio, Community Nutrition Branch ChiefSNP Program SpecialistsDeborah RoachSusan GentilePam Griffin, and Greg Piotrowicz along with Cynthia Tackett, Public Affairs Director and Heriberto Ortega were also in attendance virtually. 

During the presentation, Beesley made a point to mention the many considerations are taken into account for trainings, for example providing different options for prepping and cooking with appliances that local school units would have handy, and not just using commercial grade appliances that may not be available in all school kitchens. “It is important to make our trainings relevant to school staff no matter what they have in their kitchen,” said Beesley during the presentation. 

Another important aspect of the presentation was the many partnerships the Child Nutrition Team has been able to obtain and grow through its expansion of the culinary classroom. In addition to partnering with schools to provide trainings, they have also grown their partnerships with higher education institutes in Maine, and other industry professionals who use the kitchen as well. 

The presentation was well received by our national school lunch partners, and garnered continued support for the kitchen and Maine DOE’s ongoing projects to support Maine Schools. 

For more information about the Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition team and its programs visit their website. To see recordings of their trainings, visit the their YouTube Playlist or training website. For more information about the Culinary Classroom, contact Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition Team. 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Farm to School Cook-off Takes on New Format

people cooking in industrial kitchen
Competitors cooking the 2019/2020 Cook-off.

AUGUSTA –The Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition team is holding its annual Farm to School Cook-off in SY 2021 as usual, except this year it will look a bit differently. The cook-off is a statewide culinary competition for teams of school nutrition professionals and students to promote local foods in school meals. This voluntary competition is made available to all school districts in the state.

On a “typical” year, the cook-off would involve three regional competitions that take place in locations across the state (including CTE culinary arts centers), and a finals competition in the Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom. To adapt to these ever-changing times, the format for the 2021 cook-off will be as follows:

Round 1– virtual cook-off (March 2021). Teams will submit videos of their breakfast and lunch meals to be posted on the Child Nutrition website, where voting will take place. The top three teams will advance to round 2.

The video presentation will include details on local ingredients, techniques used, feasibility, and anything else the team would like to share.

Round 2– final cook-off (May 2021). The top teams will compete in the Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom in Augusta! The 2021 Farm to School Cook-off champion will be awarded a plaque and the opportunity to be spokespeople in the 2022 cookbook. Please note all necessary precautions will be taken, including face coverings and social distancing of teams in the culinary classroom. The Child Nutrition team will be monitoring any changes needed to this format to ensure the safety of all participants.

Each team will prepare a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least three ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet Summer Food Service Program meal requirements as well as one USDA food. Local eggs and local parsnips will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cookbook to be used in future summer meals programs.

Interested school districts can find more information and the link to register on the Maine Child Nutrition website. The registration deadline is December 18, 2020. For more information on Maine’s Farm and Sea to School program, visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/farmtoschool.

PRIORITY NOTICE: USDA Extends School Meal Flexibilities Through 2020/2021 School Year; Webinar Available 10/14 at 1pm 

The State of Maine has accepted 12 waiver extensions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allowing for continued flexibilities in the federal Summer Food Service Program/Seamless Summer Option (SFSP/SSO) programs through the 2020/2021 school year. Originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, the waiver extensions will allow schools and other local program operators to continue to leverage SFSP/SSO federal food service programs to provide no cost meals options to all children through June 30, 2021.    

The waiver extensions allow school nutrition teams across the state to continue partnering with community organizations, to prepare and package food, set up food delivery service with school transportation teams, and create community pick-up locations (among many other methods) to ensure families have safe options for receiving food during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We are really pleased that USDA continues to extend these necessary waivers to assist school nutrition programs across Maine with the funding and options they need to feed Maine kids during the pandemic,” said Walter Beesley, Maine Department of Education (DOE) Director of Child Nutrition. “We continue to work closely with district and school leaders to ensure they have the resources and state-level support needed to continue their work.” 

The Maine DOE is hosting a Child Nutrition webinar tomorrow 10/14/2020 at 1:00pm. School and district leaders, and school nutrition staff can register to attend this webinar here. 

The first round of USDA waivers for school meal programming began in March of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when schools around the country switched to emergency remote learning. The waivers have been extended numerous times throughout the summer and again this fall, with the most recent extension coming in late last week, that allows the flexibilities to continue through the end of the current school year.  

The waivers include:  

  1. COVID-19 Response #59 – Nationwide waiver to allow SFSP and SSO operations through SY 2020-21 – extension  
  2. COVID-19 Response #60 – Nationwide waiver to extend area eligibility waivers – extension #3 
  3. COVID-19 Response #61 – Nationwide waiver to allow non-congregate feeding in SFSP/SSO – extension #5 
  4. COVID-19 Response #62 – Nationwide waiver to allow parents and guardian to pick up meals for children – extension #5  
  5. COVID-19 Response #63 – Nationwide waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in SFSP/SSO – extension #8 
  6. COVID-19 Response #64 – Nationwide waiver to allow area eligibility for closed enrolled sites in SFSP/SSO – extension #2 
  7. COVID-19 Response #65 – Nationwide waiver to waive first week site visits in SFSP – extension #2 
  8. COVID 19 Response #66 – Nationwide waiver of meal service time restrictions in SFSP/SSO – extension #2 
  9. COVID 19 Response #67 – Nationwide waiver to allow OVS flexibilities in SFSP – extension #2  
  10. COVID 19 Response #68 – Nationwide waiver of area eligibility in the CACFP at risk afterschool care component – extension  
  11. COVID 19 Response #69 – Nationwide waiver to allow reimbursement for meals served prior to notification of preapproval and provide flexibility for preapproval visits in SFSP – extension  
  12. COVID 19 Response #70 – Nationwide waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs – extension #5 

 All Maine children 18 and younger can apply to have a breakfast and lunch at no charge through the school in their community. Families interested in applying can do so by contacting their local school to complete a meal benefit applicationThe data from this form also supports other opportunities for local schools/districts such as educational grants and additional state subsidy for educational purposes.  

Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition team continues to process SFSP applications on an ongoing basis.  View an interactive map of schools providing meals through SFSP. Districts interested in applying for the SFSP can do so by contacting the Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition Team.