Androscoggin Farm To School Implementation Grant
The Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative is a partner on the Auburn/Lewiston School Departments’ Farm to School Implementation Grant 2018-2020. The districts partnered with St. Mary’s Nutrition Center (SMNC) for the initial planning grant and added MFSC to provide culinary expertise, procurement resources, and project management for implementation of a local food program.
The team is working to develop relationships with local producers; increase local food purchasing; sustain and expand utilization of school gardens; and strengthen connections between school gardens and cafeterias through student and staff education and engagement. Due to the pandemic, the grant has been extended through December 2020.
The highpoint of year one of the grant was the Culinary Farm Workshop held in August of 2019 at the Whiting Farm in Auburn. Both districts enjoyed a morning of workshops for kitchen staff and lunch on the farm. Staff rotated between stations to learn about harvesting at farm scale at Whiting Farm; Farm sanitation versus Kitchen Sanitation from Dave Seddon; Student Engagement was presented by Rebecca Dugan of SMNC and the Foodcorps; the final station was split between commercial composting and Menu Trends & Marketing. Lunch featured the Isuken Co-operative’s Food Truck serving Samosas with chicken or vegetable fillings. The expanded menu exposed staff to foods of another culture that send their children to these schools.
The partners presented a session at the 2019 Maine Farm to Institution Conference: Money Isn't the Only Answer to Farm to School: Engagement Makes it Sustainable!
Enjoy this video from the Cooperative Development Institute shot at the kitchen staff training event: https://bit.ly/3fEt8c6
The highpoint of year two is the L/A Farm to School Institute held in fall of 2020. It brings together teams from five schools to map out their focus on local foods from the garden to the classroom to the cafeteria. Grant funds have seeded this work and provided workshops in student engagement, presentations from local and regional F2S experts, as well as menu planning.
Specific portions of the work performed by MFSC include project management, including USDA Reporting, as well as MFSC’s 9 Step Local Food Sourcing & Implementation Plan:
Identify key partners and personnel
Secure buy-in from administration
Analyze current menus and operations
Identify barriers including budget
Establish purchasing relationships
Determine technical skills, time management and equipment needs
Develop food service action plan, metrics and marketing activities
Present evaluation and metrics
This work was funded by a USDA Farm to School Implementation grant 2018-2020 with a partnership with Auburn Schools, Lewiston Schools, Saint Mary’s Nutrition Center and MFSC. Additional financial support was provided by the EB Sewall Foundation and a Maine Farm to Institution mini-grant to fund finalizing the Local Foods RFP. That partnership includes MeFTI, Portland and Falmouth Schools, Cultivating Community, Somali Bantu Community Association and Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition Program.