An increasing number of Maine schools are sourcing food locally and providing complementary educational activities that teach students about food, farming, and nutrition. This farm to school movement not only ensures our children are receiving healthy meals, it supports our local economy and rich tradition of agriculture.
The 2020 Maine Farm to School Cook-Off
The cook-off is an annual competition among students and school nutrition staff, featuring Maine grown ingredients, organized by the Maine Child Nutrition office. As an alternative, a virtual Farm to School Cook-off was offered to participating teams to showcase their prepared meals in a virtual format.
Thank you to RSU 54's Team Sonday for their great recipes and videos!
RSU 54 - Breakfast
Team Sonday from RSU 54 created a delicious and fun breakfast using Maine Grains local oats!
- Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
- Banana Octopus
RSU 54 - Lunch
Team Sonday used the local challenge ingredient (ground beef from Common Hill Farm) to create a tasty lunch!
- Taco Mashup Bowl
- Mexican Fruit Salad
- Salsa & Sour Cream
A special thanks to the 2020 Cook-Off challenge ingredient donators. Maine Grain Alliance donated Maine-grown rolled oats, and Common Hill Farm in Jackson donated the grass-fed ground beef!
2019 Maine Farm to School Cook-Off
The 4th Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-Off was another success! Teams of two, consisting of a student and school nutrition professional, were tasked to prepare a breakfast and lunch meal that meets the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements. Each meal was prepared with at least two ingredients that were grown, raised, caught or manufactured in the State of Maine as well as one USDA food. Challenge ingredients were incorporated into each meal including local apples donated from Ricker Hill Orchards for breakfast and dried black beans donated by Fairwinds Farm for lunch. A panel of judges consisting of a student, school nutrition director, and professional chef scored the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program, as well as food safety and time management.
Three regional cook-off’s took place at the Lake Region Vocational Center, Bath Regional Career and Technical Center and Eastern Maine Community College in March 2019 and the final cook-off was held at the Kennebec Valley Community College, Alfond Campus in April. Thank you to the following teams for participating in this year’s cook-off: Falmouth, RSU 54, Yarmouth, Auburn, RSU 12, Cherryfield, South Portland, RSU 22 and RSU 38. Stay tuned for the 2019 Farm to School Cook-off cookbook!
Congratulations to our 2019 Champions from RSU 12-Chelsea Elementary School!
A few of RSU 12-Chelsea Elementary School Winning Recipes
The following resources are provided to help schools in their efforts to increase locally sourced food.
- Benefits of Farm to School
- Checklist for purchasing local (pdf) provided by Iowa State University
- Farm Field Trip Toolkit from Oregon
- Farm to School link to USDA
- Food Safety Checklist
- Getting started with Farm to School
- Maine Agriculture in the Classroom
- Maine Seafood Guide link to Maine Sea Grant
- Pecks to Pounds translation chart (pdf)
- Tracking local purchases tool (xls)
Local Produce Fund
Local Produce Fund was established within the Maine Department of Education. The local produce fund is authorized to receive revenue from public/private sources and the State budget.
Geographic Preference and Buying Local
Geographic Preference Option. When purchasing fresh local foods, school districts must navigate three levels of procurement law – federal, state, and local. Consult FNS memoranda SP18-2011, Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As and SP03-2012, Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part II, for common questions on the implementation of the geographic preference option.
School Gardens and Product Usage
Product from school gardens can not be processed and then sold/transferred to the food service program. This includes canning, preserving, etc. Product can be washed, cut and/or frozen. Drying fruit would be considered processing and must be licensed to be done in a commercial kitchen. Home processing of this type is not allowed for School Food Service Department use.
Maine Food Producer Directories
- Crown O' Maine Organic Cooperative Vassalboro, ME
- Alaska's Guide to Serving Local Fish in School Cafeterias
- Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested Program- Contact the Gulf of Maine Research Institute for more information on sourcing seafood from our region, and for information on suppliers participating in the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested program.
- Harrison Institute Report on Geographic Preference A primer on purchasing fresh local food for schools
- Healthy Acadia Farm to School serves Hancock and Washington counties with School Supported Agriculture (SSA) , The Apple Project, School Gardens, and more.
- Maine Food Corps Maine's page of the nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy
- Maine Harvest Lunch annual week-long celebration and promotion of local foods, farms and nutrition
- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardner's Association (MOFGA)
- Maine School Garden Network promotes and supports educational gardens for youth in school programs.
- Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook
- National Farm to School Network
- On the Farm Food Safety Project comprehensive national program that offers fruit and vegetable farmers, food safety professionals, and agricultural extension specialists technical assistance to utilize and teach best practices in food safety.
- USDA Farm to School FAQs
- USDA Farm To School Information
- Vermont Feed recipes available in resources section of their website
- Vermont New School Cuisine Cookbook