Yarmouth takes grand prize in Farm to School Cook-off

Whole grain crepes, a wild blueberry kelp smoothie, granola encrusted French toast and fish tacos were featured on the menu as the top two teams of school food service staff faced off at Freeport High School on April 26. This was the final round of the 2nd Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off, sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition department. The cook-off aims to promote local products in school meals while showcasing the skills of school food service staff.

Pictured L to R: Stephanie Stambach (Maine DOE), Nikki Dovoren, Blaire Currier (Yarmouth School Department Food Service)

Each team prepared a breakfast and lunch meal that was presented to a panel of judges including a culinary arts student, chef and school nutrition director. The judges scored the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity and food cost, as well as food safety and time management.

For breakfast, Yarmouth whipped up whole grain crepes with a strawberry topping and Maine maple syrup. This was paired with a wild blueberry kelp smoothie. The judges were impressed by the flavor and texture of the smoothie and commended the team for introducing a less common food to students in an appealing way. RSU 52 created a granola encrusted French toast and wild blueberry compote paired with a strawberry smoothie. Each team was tasked to incorporate wild Maine blueberries as a challenge ingredient in their breakfast dishes.

For lunch, Mexican fare was featured by both teams. RSU 52 cooked up chicken quesadillas with a fresh fruit salsa and grilled potatozana. Yarmouth prepared fish tacos using Gulf of Maine fish with a side of roasted potatoes and apple salsa. The judges commended the teams for a creative twist on a traditional salsa. Maine potatoes were used as the challenge ingredient for lunch.

Congratulations to Yarmouth who took the grand prize and was named the 2017 Maine Farm to School Cook-off Champion! All recipes from the cook-off will be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book to be compiled this summer.

For information on how you can be part of next year’s Farm to School cook-off, contact Maine DOE’s  Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at Stephanie.stambach@maine.gov.

Maine DOE kicks off 2nd Annual Farm to School Cook-off

The Maine Department of Education is holding its 2nd annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off this month. The cook-off showcases the skills of local school food service staff, while promoting locally grown products in school meals.

School food service teams representing Falmouth, Yarmouth, RSU 14 – Windham/Raymond, Lewiston, RSU 52 – Turner, and RSU 54 – Skowhegan, will be participating in the event this year.

Last year’s participants were from Lewiston Public Schools, RSU 38 – Maranacook, Portland Public Schools, and RSU 61 – Lakes Region Schools, with the winning team from Five Town CSD/MSAD 28 & RSU 13 –Rockport, Camden, Rockland and surrounding towns.

For the competition, each team must 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. As an added twist Maine wild blueberries and Maine potatoes will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book.

This year, the regional cook-offs will be held on the March 27 at the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and on March 31 at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta.

The final cook-off on April 26th will be held at the Freeport High School’s newly renovated kitchen and dining area.

Westbrook and Augusta CTE centers are returning hosts for the cook-off, while Freeport High School joins in for the first time. The locations were chosen as cook-off sites for their well-equipped kitchens and cooking and presentation areas.

A panel of judges for the two regional cook-offs will consist of a CTE culinary arts student, school nutrition director, and professional chef. The dishes will be scored based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program. Other criteria will include food safety and time management.

Judges for the final event will include a Freeport High School student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef. The winning team will be awarded a plaque and have the opportunity to be spokespeople for the second annual cook off in 2018.

The cook-off is part of the State’s child nutrition projects and follows legislation to support healthy meals in schools. For more information on Maine’s Local Foods to Local Schools program, visit www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/localfoods/.

Members of the media are welcome to attend any the events. We ask that you confirm you are coming ahead of time by contacting Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

Maine DOE Child Nutrition Announces Change to the USDA Food Program Ordering

Maine DOE Child Nutrition announces the annual order opening date for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Program for School Administrative Units (SAU) is March 7, 2017. The SAU must order their USDA food products beginning on March 7, 2017 to March 20, 2017.  The deadline date has no flexibility.  This is the first year the annual order has been moved to March.  This federally required change allows the SAU to order the items they want and the amount they want, up to their entitlement level.

Once the SAU orders, Maine DOE Child Nutrition will place the order with USDA based on local orders. USDA will ship product to Maine’s contracted warehouse for distribution to the local SAU.  It is imperative the SAU order their product for next school year by the deadline date.  This will be the only time period the SAU can order product for the annual order.  There will be opportunities to pick up some limited items monthly, but 95% of the product will be ordered for the specific SAU.  The new March annual order has been promoted to SAU food service program staff at meetings, weekly updates and training over the last year.  This is a very tight schedule for ordering on the local and state level.  Maine must have all orders into USDA in March.  Different products have different USDA deadline dates, but all are in March.  Products are ordered in the Maine DOE NEO system as in prior years, but in March not August.  The deadline date to order is close of business on March 20, 2017.

Additionally, there will be changes to the USDA fresh product offering for School Year 2018.

For more information, contact Child Nutrition Director Walter Beesley at walter.beesley@maine.gov or call 624-6875 or Terri Fitzgerald at terri.fitzgerald@maine.gov or call 624-6882.

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, Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition (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 well documented that students learn best when they are not hungry. In fact, a nutritious, well-balanced diet is an important attribute of a great education,” says Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Robert Hasson. “Our nutrition programs in Maine serve our students well. With federal assistance, Maine needs partners for the Summer Food Service Program.”

In 2016, 119 sponsors participated in the program, serving an average of 12,182 lunches per day to children at over 400 sites. Although almost 700 more meals were served per day in 2016 than 2015, 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/programs/sfsp/index.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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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 Department of Education, Civil Rights Officer, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME, 04333 or call 207-624-6875. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

District wellness policies required to be updated by June 30, 2017

School administrative units participating in federal child nutrition programs such as the USDA National School Lunch Program are required to have updated wellness policies that comply with newly issued regulations. School wellness policies guide efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn.

Continue reading “District wellness policies required to be updated by June 30, 2017”

Child Nutrition Services hosts Back to Basics training next month

The Maine Department of Education will conduct its annual Back to Basics training on August 23. This two-day event will provide an orientation for new school nutrition directors  and  other program staff involved in the oversight and administration of school nutrition programs who are interested in a refresher.

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Summer meals programs expand in Maine

Child nutrition programs at the Maine Department of Education have been working hard to close the “hunger gap” experienced over the summer months through the USDA’s Summer Food Rocks food distribution program. Several new summer programs kicked off in June, reaching a total of 400 meal sites across the state supervised by 120 sponsors.

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Schools in RSU 17 recognized with prestigious award

All eight elementary schools in RSU 17 were recognized as bronze award winners of USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) at an assembly at Paris Elementary School. The awarded schools were Agnes Gray School, Guy E. Rowe School, Hebron Station School, Harrison Elementary School, Otisfield Community School, Oxford Elementary School, Paris Elementary, and Waterford Memorial School.

Continue reading “Schools in RSU 17 recognized with prestigious award”

Professional standards for school nutrition professionals

The Federal School Food Service Professional Standards took effect July 1, 2015. This impacts the hiring process for new School Food Service Directors or someone responsible for director duties hired after July 1, 2015.

Continue reading “Professional standards for school nutrition professionals”