Maine Harvest Lunch Week
- Establish contacts/relationships with Maine producers for future days.
This could be an ongoing partnership with Maine producers. It would provide a good source of food and an outlet for the Maine producer’s product.
- Make students aware of Maine products on an ongoing basis.
Some students think green beans come from a can. Actual knowledge that a product is from a bush, tree or root may not be understood. They may not be aware what is actually produced in Maine. How the food is prepared or eaten is part of the education. Feeding the student Maine products also educates the parent about Maine products.
- Support your community/ local producers.
With all the talk about consolidation and schools fearing losing local control, what better way to demonstrate local support and local control of the food service department? Buy locally.
- Do not forget about the fishing industry and all the products available.
- REMEMBER that the cafeteria/dining room is the biggest classroom in the school!
Why Promote Maine Products?
- Estimated importing food from out of state typically requires 17 times more petroleum compared to purchasing locally
- Product is fresher
- Better taste
- Fresh products mean maximum nutrient value
- Supports local business and taxes
- Considered an important method to address childhood obesity
- Education about products
- Not usually processed therefore no added salt or sugars
- Where the product was grown is known
- Advertises local businesses
- Increases physical activities
Obstacles to Buying Maine Products
Cost: Yes it may cost more. Keep in mind competitively shop when possible. Look at yields and quality of fresh product what are you throwing out on product purchased from your supplier and what are you saving on local products. This year you can give geographic preference in your purchasing. Trade off acknowledge producer advertise for them.
Delivery: there have been several ideas on this issue. Bottom line; think out of the box, it is a community event. There is always the good old pick it up. Other options include district buses, district mail run, teachers that go between schools and volunteers.
Quantity: Get what you can use what you have. You could do only one school at a time. Supplement local and other. Plan in advance and get the provider to agree ahead of time.
Questions About Maine Harvest Lunch
When did it start?
The Maine Harvest Lunch was resurrected in School Year 2005 as a statewide event. It was dropped in the late 90s when budget cuts eliminated 50% of the state office Child Nutrition staff.
Can a School buy locally and not from a major from a supplier?
YES, support your community and feed students good quality products.
Can a School use donations from local farmers or others?
YES, and say "thank You" for the support to the food service program.
Where are the farms are located?
People are surprised by how many small farms are in Maine. Look around, go to farmers market, or contact the Department of Agriculture.
Does the farm need to be inspected?
NO, inspection is not required. The school must know where the product came from, basically you should use common sense.
Can I use the school garden even though it is unattended?
YES commercial fields are not guarded no matter what size. Absolutely use the fresh product from the school gardens.
What if I get only 50% of the product I need?
Use what you can where you can.
Will the product be in usable state?
Maybe not. Small farmers may not have all the machinery needed to prepare and process products. It may take some skill and labor. The school may not have the staff to complete the task. Many schools recruited student and community volunteers to assist in Harvest Lunch preparations.
What About the Classroom and Teaching Staff?
Maine Agriculture in the Classroom has nice lesson called "Lunchtime Favorites" using a Venn Diagram that can be used for K - 12 with increasing complexity. It traces the source of foods to plant, animal or other (mineral, fungus, fermented products, yeast, etc.) that is available to teachers.
Willie Sawyer Grenier
Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Assn.
28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
(207) 287-5522, Fax 287-7548
Farm to School Resources:
Maine Agency Contact Information:
Maine DOE Child Nutrition Walter Beesley and Stephanie Stambach
Maine DOE CTE Doug Robertson
Maine Department of Agriculture Jon Harker
Maine Department of Marine Resources John Lewis