October is National Farm to School Month

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) and the Maine Department of Education (DOE) join thousands of schools, farms, communities, and organizations across the country in celebrating National Farm to School Month. Maine is home to more than 8000 farmers and 185,000 students, making the partnership between schools and farmers an important part of the state’s agricultural landscape.

Over the last decade, more Maine schools have prioritized adding local foods to student menus. Many have developed school gardens and other education programs. In 2015, the USDA found that 79% of Maine school districts surveyed take part in farm to school activities. In that survey, school districts spent an average of 16% of their food budgets on local products, totaling $3.8 million statewide.

The Maine Department of Education supports Farm to School efforts by promoting local products during the annual Maine Harvest Lunch Week and Farm to School Cook-off, among other initiatives. According to Stephanie Stambach, the department’s Child Nutrition Consultant, “Students look forward to seeing local foods on the menu. When they know it is coming from a farm in their community they get excited, and it’s an educational opportunity. Students and parents seem increasingly aware of where their food comes from, and schools play an important role in supporting this awareness.”

Renee Page is the Maine Farm to School Network Coordinator. “Farm to School’s three-pronged approach includes agricultural-based education, experiential learning through gardens and greenhouses, and more Maine-grown food in school meals. These strategies help connect kids to their food and to farmers. They become savvier consumers and have better health and learning outcomes. These efforts also support the local food economy,” according to Page.

For farmers, schools can be important local customers. Martha Putnam, owner of Wealden Farm, is such a farmer. “Schools are a very good market. Working with them makes a difference and is a boost to farmers. It’s good for student awareness; they get to see the diversity of foods that Maine produces,” according to Putnam. Maine farmers and producers have provided local products to many schools across Maine, and have helped with annual programs such as Maine Harvest Lunch Week.

Schools across Maine provide local foods and nutrition education to their students, and many are eager to grow these efforts. In School Year 2019, students at more than 150 Maine schools will receive a variety of fruits and vegetables at no cost during the school day as part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). Food service directors at schools participating in the FFVP program can be excellent partners for farmers, especially those who are new to selling to schools.

For more information, contact Maine DOE Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at 207-624-6732 or stephanie.stambach@maine.gov, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Marketing Director Leigh Hallett at 207-287-3494 or leigh.hallett@maine.gov, or Renee Page from Healthy Communities of the Capital Area at 207-588-5347 or r.page@hccame.org.

Camden Hills School Nurse Janis Hogan Named 2018-2019 School Nurse of the Year

Janis LoganThe Maine School Nurse Association (MASN) recently announce that Janis Hogan from Camden Hills Regional High School is the School Nurse of the Year, 2018-2019. This award acknowledges a member of the Maine School Nurse Association who demonstrates excellence in school nursing practice and leadership in school nursing.

In her role at Camden Hills, Janis’ presence and influence can be noted everywhere. The librarian/technology director who nominated her stated that “Janis is well-informed on issues that affect our students’ health, and is aware of local, state, and national health trends for youth; she uses this to inform her decisions about student care, programming, advocacy, and outreach efforts, and she also shares this information with teachers and administrators at the building and district level.” The pervasiveness of her influence can be grouped into the initiatives that she embraces and leads.

For more information visit the Maine Association of School Nurses Website. Learn more about how to nominate your school nurse.


Reminder of 2019 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS)

This notice is a reminder that the sixth cycle for the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) will be administered in February, 2019.

In 2017 over 62,000 students from 350 schools participated in the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS), providing insight into childhood and adolescent health. MIYHS data is used daily at the school, county, public-health district, state and even national level to make informed health decisions.

Find MIYHS data below:

Online school registration for the 2019 MIYHS cycle is available for the first time. Our survey partner, Pan Atlantic will contact schools in early September with registration information and other survey details.

For further questions contact Jean Zimmerman at jean.zimmerman@maine.gov.


Child Sexual Abuse Implementation Support Materials Now Available

As part of a collaborative effort of the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), resources have been developed to support school systems in the implementation of the child sexual abuse prevention and response law, L.D. 1180 – An Act To Require Education in Public Preschool Programs and Elementary. The Maine Department of Education has developed a Model Policy for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response and more resources are available as part of an initiative called The Children’s Safety Partnership: Ending Child Abuse Together.

An important resource to the support these materials is The Children’s Safety Partnership Website dedicated to providing information and resources for schools and communities on child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention and response. Available on the home page of the new website is a link to a newly developed tool, A Guide to Implementing Maine’s CSA Prevention & Response Model Policy. Also available on the new website will be training opportunities focused on understanding the policy, personnel awareness and education, and curriculum lessons for students on child sexual abuse prevention. These trainings will include direct education as well as training of trainers and teachers. Get further details about scheduled regional trainings.

In addition, MECASA has a network of educators across the state available to support school districts with the implementation of the law. Visit the contact page of The Children’s Safety Partnership Website or the MECASA website to locate an educator at the sexual assault support center nearest you.

For more information contact Susan Berry, Health Education and Health Promotion Coordinator at Maine DOE at susan.berry@maine.gov.


School Nurse of the Year Nominations

This past week the Maine Department of Education celebrated National Nurses Week by hosting school nurses for National School Nurse Day at the Blaine House for tea where the Department and Maine Association of School Nurses honored our current School Nurse of the Year, Ann Bouchard.

Please consider honoring a deserving colleague by putting in a nomination for the 2018-2019 School Nurse of the Year.

This title provides recognition to an individual who demonstrates leadership in 6 areas of their practice: Care provision, program management, health education, professional development, community involvement, and research.

Please take this opportunity to showcase your School Nurse’s accomplishments and nominate! The individual selected will receive a $500 cash award and be recognized at the Maine Association of School Nurses Summer Institute, the Blaine House Tea and at the National Association of School Nurse annual conference.

We are accepting applications now. Below you can find the nomination form and the information necessary to begin this process:

The application deadline is June 1st (please disregard the erroneous date on the forms).

For further information contact Maine DOE School Nurse Consultant, Emily Poland at emily.poland@maine.gov or (207) 624-6688.