Local Foods to Local School
Local Produce Fund Guidance Great News! The Local Product Fund now has some money in it. We will be paying from this account starting 1/1/2012. Payments will be made as first received first paid. There is very little money currently, but hopes are to receive more money in the future. This guidance contains three parts of importance:
- The law
- DOE guidelines
- Cover page when submitting request
20-A §6602. SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE PROGRAMS
12. Local Product Fund:
Established within the Department of Education the local product fund is authorized to receive revenue from public and private sources. The fund must be held separate and apart from all other money, funds and accounts. Any balance remaining in the fund at the end of the fiscal year must be carried forward to the next fiscal year. The fund must be used to match $1 for every $3 that a school administrative unit pays for local product or minimally processed foods purchased directly from a Maine producer or producers cooperative within the State, to a maximum state contribution of $1,000. At the end of the fiscal year, the school administrative unit may provide the department with receipts documenting purchases pursuant to this subsection during that year. For purposes of this subsection, "minimally processed" means only the washing, cleaning, trimming, drying, sorting and packaging of food items or a combination of those activities. Reimbursement or partial reimbursement to school administrative units may only be made up to the amount available in the fund. Failure to reimburse does not constitute an obligation on behalf of the State to a school administrative unit.
Local Product Fund Simple Guidelines:
- Cannot be for product offered through the FFVP
- Maine product must be maintained from Maine producer or producers cooperative within the State
- Minimally processed as defined in law
- Receipts are paid first in first out, until money is gone
- Requests will be processed on the same time frame as the monthly claim form
- Receipts do not have to be originals
- Receipts can be sent via fax, electronically or US mail to ATTN: Nanci Stitt-Kittredge
- For product purchases no earlier than 1/1/2012, not for prior purchases
- Districts have a maximum of $1000 per year
- Cover note must be attached to refund request
- DOE reserves the right to decline or prorate receipts to provide support to as many districts as reasonably possible
- The same time frame and process of the claim forms
- To be reported under “other income” on claim form
- Nanci will notify districts when funds are no longer available
Geographic Preference Geographic preference does not mean that a decision can be made to purchase locally. There are requirements that must be followed. Geographic preference is a method to evaluate bids/quotes - it is not the sole indicator. Schools still must shop for the product based on their requirements and selection process. This does not mean you must take the lowest quote, but the quote that fits the scoring/evaluation method. Price may be 50% of determining factor and local purchase may be 50% of the determining factor. Local or State laws can not mandate the amount of food purchased locally. The NSLP MUST purchase following the Federal procurment regulations/guidance.
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, 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 Food Service Department use.
MAINE HARVEST DAY Do not forget the purpose of the event:
- 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 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. Feed the student Maine products, 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***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
Cost: Cost is sometimes an issue, but purchasers must look at the yield of a product. Also, the farmer you purchased from is your neighbor who pays taxes and supports your school. The farmer may be able to provide other useful parts to the school.
Transportation: Getting the product to your kitchens has been a problem in the past. Farmers and distributors are aware of this and options have been put in place or being worked on.
What about the classroom and teaching staff?
Teach ME About Food & Farms Lesson site provides agriculture lessons for educators in grades PreK-12 that align with the Maine Learning Results and Common Core Standards. Search by topic, grade, or learning standards by going to:
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. Contact:
Willie Sawyer Grenier
Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Assn.
28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
(207) 287-5522, Fax 287-7548
When did it start?
The Maine Harvest Lunch was resurrected School 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 the farms are located?
People are surprised how many small farms are in Maine. Look around, go to farmers market contact 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 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 prep products. It may take some skill and labor. The school does not have staff to complete the task. Many schools recruited volunteers to assist. Get the community involved.
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.
REMEMBER THE CAFETERIA IS THE BIGGEST CLASSROOM!!!!
THE LIFE OF SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE FOOD PRESENTLY
Purchased from distributor at a cost.
Prepared by food service staff.
Severed by staff to customers.
Consumed by customers.
Tray waste into trash cans hauled to landfill at a cost.
WHAT IF IT WAS
Products grown locally or from our shores.
Purchase products locally at a cost. This puts dollars back into the community and shows community support.
Purchased remaining products from distributor at a cost. Would be less to purchase.
Prepared by Food Service Staff. No change here.
Served by Food Service staff to customers. History tells us sales increase when purchasing locally therefore reducing the cost per meal.
Publicize local purchasing. Promote the fact that when you buy locally you know where the product came from.
Consumed by customers Expect an increase in sales.
Food tray waste into compost bucket for farmer or school garden. No cost here, but a cost saving less hauled to landfill.
Other items in trash cans hauled to landfill at a cost. Now reduced cost because of the weight of compost items has been used for composting.
Compost used in garden that will create more Maine products.
Can the compost be a money maker?
What about selling seeds?
Can excess from the school garden go to a school farm stand?
Resource Guide Listing Local Farmers That Will Present to or Host School Groups
National Farm to School Web Page
Maine Local Food for Local Schools List Serve
YES, Maine School Food Service programs can buy local products. This is a great plan to support the local communities. Several Districts are already doing this, some have a garden. There is a lot of confusion on the buying local and using geographic preference. This is not allowed under the current regulations. The Harrison Institute Report does not agree with USDA Food and Nutrition Services interpretation of the regulation. The FNS letter is pretty clear.
Vermont Feed has recipes on their web page.
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardner's Association (MOFGA)
Cheryl Wixson Organic Marketing Consultant of MOFGA, has agreed to work with schools in development of some ideas and recipes.
Farm to School Blog Some Farm to School can be found on this blog. It is not a 100% Farm to School blog at this time.
On the Farm Food Safety Project The On-Farm Food Safety Project is a 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.
Maine School Garden Network
Western Mountains Alliance This site has PDF booklet of farm stands in Franklin and Somerset County, information on greenhouse and other interesting information.
Harrison Institute report and USDA with Questions and Answers.
Maine Agency contact information:
Maine DOE Child Nutrition Walter Beesley
Maine DOE CTE Doug Robertson
Maine deptament of Agriculture Jon Harker
Maine Department of Marine Resources John Lewis
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