Portland School Cafeterias Do Not Serve “Pink Slime”
The Portland Public Schools’ food service does not purchase ground beef products containing Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), popularly known as “pink slime.”
The district buys precooked beef burgers from a national company that does not use LFTB. In addition, growing portions of Portland’s ground beef purchases are from local companies committed to natural and sustainable farming practices.
Portland’s school lunch program currently purchases burgers from the Maine Grind in Portland that uses ground beef from Herring Brothers Meats in Guilford – a Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association (MOFGA) certified processing facility. Herring Brothers uses 100% Maine beef with no LFTB, other fillers, or chemicals in their ground beef. In the last few years, Portland’s school lunches have also featured burgers from Pineland Farms in New Gloucester and Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport.
Unlike most other school districts in the country, Portland does not purchase ground beef from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Commodities Market. All USDA food dollars are received in cash that can be spent with any vendor rather than being locked into commodities foods.
Portland is one of only 30 school districts in the country to have this distinction. That enables the school system to purchase more food from local companies. It also gives the district more flexibility to access the best products at the best prices.
The Portland Public Schools has demonstrated a significant commitment to providing students with healthy and wholesome food. In the past five years, the district has increased the nutrition content of foods and purchased more local foods while still working within school budget limitations.
In 2011, eight of Portland’s elementary schools received the USDA’s Healthier US Schools Challenge Bronze Award. The award recognizes excellence in school meals, with menus that meet nutrition standards above and beyond federal and state requirements.