Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today announced that three projects in Maine have received $180,058 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant program to support local food procurement and agricultural education in Maine schools.
“Empowering schools to access healthy, locally grown foods will help to transform our food system, connecting kids to the process of getting food on plates. These Farm to School Grants will also give children more nutritious food options and help support farmers in our communities,” said Pingree. “As a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and a longtime organic farmer, I’ve advocated for theseprograms because they help propel a locally driven food system and healthier communities.”
Details of the grants are available below:
Alfond Youth Center - $48,386 (Waterville, Maine)
The Alfond Youth Community Center (AYCC) will develop an agricultural education curriculum for its childcare programs serving youth four to 18 years of age from Waterville, ME, 80% of whom qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. The curriculum will complement the AYCC’s existing Garden to Table program that teaches children how to grow food from seed to harvest and prepare and cook the food they grow in the facility’s 42-foot greenhouse, outdoor raised gardens beds, and kids’ teaching kitchen.
Sheepscot Valley RSU 12 - $99,853 Somerville, Maine
Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12 will increase the sustainability of a growing farm to school program by adding support and resources for the school nutrition program to increase engagement between students, classrooms, and community health providers. This program will be a replicable model for partner Western Maine Foothills Regional Unit 10 to increase local foods on their menus and generate support and enthusiasm for healthy eating agriculture education and local food providers.
United Charitable - $31,819 Maine
Together with committed partners, ReTreeUS will serve 10 schools, sowing the Back to School Gardens concept to address common challenges facing Maine garden educators: maintaining gardens through summer, growing ample quantities for the cafeteria during the school year and the desire for community connections. Collectively reaching 4,459 PreK-12 students, this project will equip schools with gardening, harvesting and processing supplies and expertise in an innovative manner that extends the growing season, builds soil, engages local producers, yields bountiful harvests and maximizes hands-on garden learning opportunities. Collaborators will provide critical contributions: Coast of Maine Organic Products donating compost, Wolfe’s Neck Center supplying seedlings, Independent Retailers and Shared Services Cooperative cultivating resources to ensure program sustainability, and Maine Agriculture in the Classroom supplying curriculum materials and expertise to align activities to standards
Pingree is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, and is the author of the Kids Eat Local Act, bipartisan legislation to support local and regional food systems and encourage healthy meal choices among school-aged children by allowing school systems to ask for “local” as a product specification in procurement requests.
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