District Serves More than 3,000 Pounds of Local Food in One Week
The Portland Public Schools recently celebrated Maine Harvest Lunch Week by featuring local foods in school lunches. This year, the district expanded its harvest lunch celebration to include high schools as well as elementary and middle schools.
Over the course of the week, the Portland Public Schools served more than 3,000 pounds of local food. That included 400 pounds of lettuce from Maxwell’s in Cape Elizabeth, 450 pounds of haddock from Bristol Seafood in Portland, 600 pounds of beef patties from The Maine Grind in Portland, 350 pounds of strawberries from Fairwinds Farm in Topsham, 200 pounds of dry beans from The Beanery in Exeter, and 100 pounds of tomatoes from Snell Family Farm in Buxton.
Students at Presumpscot and Ocean Avenue elementary schools aided in the effort by shucking 450 pounds of corn on the cob from R. Belanger & Sons in Lewiston. The corn also was served in the cafeterias.
The district first participated in Maine Harvest Lunch in 2008 with just a few local items on one Harvest Lunch Day served at a few elementary schools. Since then, the Portland Public Schools has expanded Harvest Lunch to a full week at all elementary, middle and high schools. Some meals during the week are exclusively local food.
Harvest Lunch Week highlights Portland’s work to increase the amount of local food in the school meal program throughout the year. Currently, about 30 percent of all food comes from local sources.
The district’s efforts have gained regional and national attention, including a recent visit by Maine Congresswomen Chellie Pingree and USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.
During the summer, the district’s local foods specialist, Blair Currier, presented a workshop on local foods and school gardening at the National Farm to School Conference. The Portland Public Schools’ food service director, Ron Adams, will talk about the district’s use of local foods in his upcoming keynote address at the Vermont School Nutrition Association Conference.