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RSU #20 Healthy Kids - Blog
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About RSU 20 Healthy Kids: Under the guidance of Linda Hartkopf, RSU 20 School Health Coordinator, a group of parents, health professionals called RSU#20 Healthy Kids has been meeting for approximately three year. The mission of the group is to research and set goals on how a healthier lunch program could be implemented within the RSU #20 school district.

RSU20 Healthy Kid has thus far succeeded in eliminating all hyper-processed food from cafeterias and in obtaining that 20% of the food budget be spent with local farmers. To join us, email coordinator Thierry Bonneville at or Linda Hartkopf at | Read more...

The blog below is intended to provide you with the latest news related to the National School Lunch Program. We highlight district initiatives and broader trends in school nutrition aimed at fighting children obesity.

2015 Farm to School Grant Program Funds Available
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Thursday, 20 February 2014 14:54
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Screen_Shot_2014-02-27_at_2.54.38_PMOn February 19, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of federal funds for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Farm to School Grant Program. See the press release here.

FY 2015 Request for Applications (pdf)

FY 2015 Request for Applications (doc)

Program Description

The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. New in FY 2015, USDA will make approximately an additional $500,000 available to eligible entities to support conferences, trainings, and events focused on farm to school program development. In this funding round, USDA is soliciting applications for four types of grants:

  1. Planning grants are intended for school districts or schools just starting to incorporate farm to school program elements into their operations.
  1. Implementation grants are intended for school districts or schools to help scale or further develop existing farm to school initiatives.
  1. Support Service grants are intended for state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers, and non-profit entities working with school districts or schools to further develop existing farm to school initiatives and to provide broad reaching support services to farm to school initiatives.

Proposals for planning, implementation, and support service grants are due at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 30, 2014. A 25% cash or in-kind match of the total project cost is required.

  1. Conference/Event grants are open to all interested parties. They are intended to support conferences, events and trainings that strengthen farm to school supply chains, or conferences, events and trainings that provide technical assistance in the area of local procurement, food safety, culinary education and integration of agriculture‐based curriculum.

Letters of Intent for Conference/Event grants are due at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 2, 2014.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:56
Farm-to-School: Portland to double amount of local produce, meats served in schools
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Thursday, 30 January 2014 14:58
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PORTLAND, Maine — While high-end restaurants on the peninsula clamor for farm-to-table cred, a lesser-known kitchen on the city’s outskirts may be poised to outdo them.

Call it the farm-to-school movement.

In an industrial lot off Riverside Street sits Portland Public Schools’ Central Kitchen. There, a dozen kitchen employees scramble each morning to prepare food for 2,200 students.

Increasingly, the food students eat is grown on farms throughout Maine. A small amount comes from students themselves.

Last year, the kitchen served 50,000 pounds of local produce and 15,000 pounds of local meats. This year, the kitchen is on track to double those amounts, according to Blair Currier, the School District’s local food specialist.

Currier received special recognition from the School Board during its Jan. 21 meeting, and School Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk praised him for ushering the food service into “the new age.”

“He has helped transform the lunch menu,” Caulk said. “As the agent of change, Blair has kept a great attitude despite all the obstacles that exist when transforming a system in place for over 30 years.”


Read full article on the Bangor Daily News

Groups pushing Maine bill to put more locally grown food in schools
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014 00:00
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(Source: New England Council Network | January 22, 2014 | READ FULL ARTICLE HERE)

(NECN: Amy Sinclair) - Maine environmentalists, farmers and schools are trying to move an ambitious bill through the legislature that would put more locally grown food into cafeterias.

The bill would authorize millions of dollars in spending -- most of it through a bond issue -- to make it easier for farmers and fishermen to get their food into schools.

Despite Maine's rich agricultural heritage, the state imports 90 percent of it's food from out of state, which is more than any other state in the continental United States. The reason, according to research done in 2010, boils down to cost and access to markets.

The bill heard Tuesday by the Agriculture Committee would level the playing field, at least within the state's public school system.

LD 1431 would put more local produce, meat, cheese and seafood on the cafeteria trays of Maine's 186,000 public school students through a combination of financial incentives, infrastructure improvements and training.

"So for every $3,000 I spend, I get a $1,000 back from an incentive fund," said Ron Adams, a bill proponent and Director of Food Services for the Portland Public Schools.

The bill would also provide training to help kitchen staff handle seasonal produce and maximize student acceptance of those products.

The most controversial part of the bill is the $6 million bond issue that would go before voters via referendum. The bond money would cover the cost of establishing and supporting regional food hubs, that would gather, package and minimally process produce and seafood, making it easier for school districts to purchase and prepare the food. However, the legislation may have a hard time getting past fiscal conservatives.


(Source: New England Council Network | January 22, 2014 | READ FULL ARTICLE HERE)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 07:21
Maine Local Food Sources for RSU 3 (Unity Maine)
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Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:00
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(source: RSU 3 School Nutrition Office)

Local Food Sources for RSU # 3 (Unity Maine)

"Here in RSU #3 we believe in supporting our community through Farm to School Initiatives. We would like to recognize our partnerships with area farms who produce 40% of our food for our students. Thank you for the hard work and fantastic food you provide our students and staff!"

Thor-Knox Farm- Thorndike                 Terranian Farm- Troy

Heald Farm- Troy                                  Morning Glories Farm- Unity

Common Sense Farm- Unity                Stantial Brook Farm- Thorndike

Singing Nettle Farm- Brooks                Raven Blueberries- Knox

Mainely Apples- Dixmont                      Rolling Acres Farm- Monroe

'Pink slime' slips back into school lunches in four more states
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Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00
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(Source: NY Daily News | Read Full Article HERE)

School districts in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Texas have placed orders with the USDA for ground beef that may contain the ammonia-treated beef, joining Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

A total of seven states have placed orders with the USDA for ground beef that may contain lean finely textured beef — commonly called pink slime — for inclusion in school lunches.

It’s the return of so-called pink slime.

Four more U.S. states have placed orders with the USDA for the coming school year for ground beef that may contain ammonia-treated lean finely textured beef, or LFTB, a product that sparked a consumer backlash in in 2012.

School districts in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Texas will soon be re-joining those in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota — the only three states to have continued buying up the meat item made by Beef Products, Inc. following the uproar — in serving the low cost product to schoolchildren.

“With the successful use of LFTB by [USDA’s National School Lunch Program] over the last 15 years, we are confident that these states and school districts will enjoy both quality and cost improvements. This will ultimately enable them to provide more nutritious lean beef to their children,” Craig Letch, BPI’s director of food safety and quality assurance, told Politico.

As of Sept. 3, those seven states have ordered approximately 2 million pounds of ground beef that may contain LFTB, a fraction of the amount that schools nationwide once ordered.

In 2012, BPI sold 7 million pounds of LFTB to the National School Lunch Program and so-called pink slime was found in roughly 70% of all supermarket ground beef.

After being dropped by McDonald’s, several other fast food chains and supermarkets cited consumer concerns and followed suit, and the USDA amended its policy to allow school districts to opt out of purchasing ground beef that contains LFTB.

Consisting of meat by-products that have been run through a centrifuge and treated with ammonia to kill deadly pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, LFTB is then mixed into traditional ground beef as a way to extend cattle yields. BPI patented the ammonia treatment process, but other companies make LFTB using citric acid.

(Source: NY Daily News | Read Full Article HERE)

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 08:17
Dietary Report Card Disappoints (New York Times)
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Monday, 23 September 2013 08:42
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Nutrition-Rate-Card-NYT(Source: New York Times | Jane Brody | Full Article Here

From time to time, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group, prepares an updated “report card” on changes in the American diet. The latest, collated by the nutritionist Bonnie Liebman and published in the September issue of the center’s Nutrition Action Newsletter, is not one Americans should be especially proud of.

The analysis of changes in food consumption from 1970 to 2010 reveals that we still have a long way to go before we come close to meeting dietary guidelines for warding off obesity and chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

The news isn’t all bad. Our consumption of added sweeteners, though still significantly higher than it was in 1970, has come down from the “sugar high” of 1999 when the average was 89 pounds per person. Nonetheless, an average of 78 pounds per person in 2010, mostly as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, is still too much, Ms. Liebman points out.

Even our B-plus for cutting back on fats and oils, the highest grade Ms. Liebman awarded, is a mixed bag. Yes, we’ve dramatically reduced consumption of heart-damaging trans fats and, to a lesser extent, saturated solid fats like margarine and shortening. But there’s been a steady, steep climb in total fats added to the diet in the form of salad oils and cooking oils.


School lunch, milk eligibility criteria set (MAINE DOE)
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Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00
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(SOURCE: MAINE DOE - Posted on August 22, 2013 by Samantha Warren - FULL ARTICLE HERE)

AUGUSTA – With the start of school fast approaching, the Maine Department of Education is releasing the criteria for students to qualify for free or reduced school meals and milk for the 2013-14 school year.   

Students from families whose annual income is equal to or less than the federal income guidelines shown below will be eligible for free or reduced price meals or free milk for kindergarten students, or free milk at schools offering only a milk program.

The 2013-14 school year family size and income guidelines, based on information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, are:


Applications will be available to each Maine student on the first day of school as part of a letter from the school describing the nutrition programs offered by that school. Any information provided on the application back to schools is completely confidential.


Chef's touch transforms school lunches in Maine
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Tuesday, 13 August 2013 00:00
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Chef-Maine-School-LunchesPursuing healthful foods that kids will eat, local districts are taking the obesity battle to the next level.

By Meredith Goad

Gone are the days of American chop suey from a can and unidentifiable slabs of meat covered in gloppy gravy.

School lunch is going back to its roots, sourcing fresh ingredients from Maine farms and cooking mom-worthy hot meals from scratch in an effort to combat childhood obesity by providing healthier, less processed food.

This year, the Windham-Raymond school district is going a step beyond buying grass-fed beef from a farmer up north or apples from the orchard down the road: It's added a full-time chef to its school nutrition department.

Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro, a culinary school graduate who spent the last eight years working as a personal chef and teaching cooking classes in Boston, will train the cooking staff at six schools, teach after-school cooking classes, shape the school lunch menu to the students' tastes, and generally find ways to get children more invested in the food they put in their bodies.

"She's going to be working with our staff to kind of bring our food up to the next level and train my staff more in cooking from scratch," said Jeanne Reilly, director of school nutrition at RSU 14. "(She'll be) reworking our recipes to be moving towards the new (federal nutrition) guidelines, while not losing any flavor."


Southern Maine schools have been focusing on meeting the new federal school lunch guidelines, which went into effect in the 2012-13 school year, for a few years now. This year, they are mostly building on those efforts to feed kids more whole grains and vegetables, cut back on sodium, and bring in more local foods.


National Recognition for Five RSU20 Schools (WCGH)
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Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00
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RSU20-Bronze-School-Food(Source: WCGH - Read Full Article HERE)

Shown with their awards are, front row from left, Page Dilts, Chris Harrington, Roxie Whitney, Wanda Moody, Erika Young, Brenda Smith and Perley Martin, RSU 20 Food Service Director. In the second row, from left, are EBS and Nickerson principal Abbie Hartford, CASS principal Jody Henderson, Debbie Mitchell, Cindy Boguen, Rhonda Bishop Wood and Sue Black. In the back row from left are Angela Wight of Maine Child Nutrition department, Linda Hartkopf, Ames principal Laura Miller, Northport principal Sandy Flacke, Rhonda Kinney, and Thierry Bonneville of the RSU 20 Health Kids parents’ group.

Five elementary schools in RSU 20 have been awarded national recognition for their efforts to improve school meals and overall wellness among their students and staff. Only 5 percent of schools in the United States have achieved this award.

Receiving a bronze award from HealthierUS School Challenge were the Ames School in Searsmont, Belfast Area High School, Captain Albert Stevens School in Belfast, East Belfast School, and Drinkwater Elementary School in Northport.

To earn this award, a school must serve healthy meals, teach nutrition education taught in all grade levels and encourage physical activity. Physical education has to include at least 45 minutes a week. There must also be a wellness policy, which states that physical activity is neither denied nor required as a means of punishment, and use of food as a reward is prohibited.

Honored June 3 were the principals, wellness champions and food service personnel from the five schools, along with Linda Hartkopf, the school health coordinator, a position funded by Waldo County General Hospital; Perley Martin, RSU Food Service Director; Healthy Waldo County, Let’s Go! Waldo 5210 and the RSU 20 Healthy Kids parents’ group. With the bronze award, each of the schools received $500 for their nutrition program.

Hartkopf said the goal for next year will be to have the entire district earn a silver or bronze award.

The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is designed to improve the health of the nation’s children by promoting healthier school environments.

(Source: WCGH - Read Full Article HERE)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 07:16
Parents, food service directors debate snacks sneaking into kids’ diets at school
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Sunday, 14 April 2013 10:08
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Snack Food in Maine Schools

Sources: Washington Post | Read full article here | By Lynh Bui, Published: April 14, 2013

Across the country, school lunch directors, nutritionists and parents like Devitt are asking the same question as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crafts new federal nutrition standards limiting sugar, fat and sodium for school snacks and drinks. The rules would be the first update to school snack guidelines in more than 30 years and would come as first lady Michelle Obama continues to take aim at childhood obesity. About one-third of children in the United States are either overweight or obese.

The mandates will be controversial. School districts worry that changes to snack guidelines will reduce food sales that help keep cafeteria budgets balanced. They also say the rules could limit some children from eating enough calories because recent federal rules shrank the size of school meals.

Others say the proposed guidelines don’t go far enough. High-fat potato chips, candy bars and sugary sodas will be out, but flavored milks or low-fat yogurts with nearly the same sugar content as certain chocolate bars could be in.

> Read full article in the Washington Post

Local food bill introduced by Pingree
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Wednesday, 10 April 2013 09:42
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Source: The, published on April 10, 2013

(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act on Tuesday, a comprehensive package of reforms that would expand opportunities for local and regional farmers and make it easier for consumers to have access to healthy foods.   The bill also helps put more local food into schools, rebuild the farm infrastructure in rural communities and help farmers break down barriers to new markets.


Some of the proposals in the bill include:

  • Provide funding to help farmers build the infrastructure—like community kitchens—to process and sell their food locally.
  • Require USDA to keep doing traditional seed research, not just on genetically modified seeds.
  • Create a new crop insurance program tailored to the needs of diversified and organic farmers who grow a wide variety of crops and can’t easily access traditional crop insurance.
  • Break down barriers for schools to purchase local food more easily.  Provide schools with a local school credit to purchase local foods.
  • Make it easier for food stamp recipients to spend their money at farmers markets by giving the farmers access to technology necessary to accept electronic benefits—that money goes right back into the local economy.  The bill includes a pilot program to test smart phone technology to accept food stamp benefits at farmers market.

> Read full article on

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 09:47
Meat consumption in the U.S. on the decline
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Thursday, 04 April 2013 13:46
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Report issued by Packaged Facts - Read full report overview issued April 4th, 2013

Report on Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S.

Meat consumption in the U.S. has been on the decline for nearly a decade. Several factors account for this change, but two in particular stand out. The first is consumer health concerns, based on a public perception that a high level of red meat consumption is unhealthy. The other main factor is the economy, specifically the recession that began in 2008 and which is still having a negative impact on the economy in 2013. As a result, consumers have been eliminating meat from one or more meals per week and/or reducing the size of portions served.

The health concerns also drove a switch by many consumers from red meat to poultry as a healthier source of animal protein or to switch to plant-based meat substitutes as their protein source.


But even as consumption per capita has decreased, overall dollar sales have increased thanks to more value-added products entering the marketing mix. These are often convenience products targeted to an overworked population as well as to younger consumers who lack cooking skills. Also helping to keep the dollar sales up are in increase in high-end fresh meat cuts that appeal to that part of the population that has survived the recession or recovered economically more quickly than the population as a whole and want to enjoy upscale products.

As a result, Packaged Facts estimates that retail sales of meat and poultry products topped $85 billion in 2012, up from nearly $73 billion in 2008. Looking ahead, sales are projected to grow to $98.3 billion by 2017. Supporting that growth will be an economic recovery that, while it has been very slow, is underway and likely to pick up steam with each passing year.

Report issued by Packaged Facts - Read full report overview issued April 4th, 2013

Page 2 of 8


Mike Hurley shares:
“First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~


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