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County Ag Report: Farm to School

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 2:02 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Maine is set to have a new Farm to School Institute. In this week’s County Ag, Rhian Lowndes learns about the program

Jade McNamara, an assistant professor at University of Maine, was awarded 225,000 dollars to create Maine’s Farm to School Institute. McNamara is collaborating with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Maine Farm to School Network, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, ReTreeUs and the Cumberland County Food Security Council. The initiative is also being supported by several organizations--and all are working to promote and source local food.

JM The more students are connected with food and the food system, will hopefully encourage those healthy habits

The institute will train school communities to create farm to school programs

SC ultimately it serves as a menu for schools to figure out what nuances and place based options work for them, so if they want to build a garden great were going to offer support, training, and opportunities for that

The training centers around the Three Cs: cafeteria, classroom and community changes.

SC Were all approaching it in different ways but all with schools as community change centers within this rural agricultural context

The Institute aims to improve diet health for Maine’s children, but they also see it as an investment in Maine’s rural agricultural economy. And further than that, they want to educate youth to lead the charge

VL I think the institute that were looking to put together is unique in that we are looking to incorporate youth voice which sort of sets our program apart from what other institutes have done

UMaine college students will help mentor students. Another reason they started the institute? Food insecurity

JM That’s one of the big goals too is that were working on how can we assess food security and what kind of programming can students implement at their schools

They hope to launch their application for schools in January. Rhian lowndes newssource8

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