Celebratory events in recognition of National Farm to School Month are taking place across the country, and in many forms! Here in the Northeast, the Maine Department of Education chose to develop and execute their first ever Maine Harvest Lunch Week Menu Contest.
Schools were invited to submit a menu from a meal that was served to students during the designated Maine Harvest Lunch Week in late September. The theme this year was “Dig In to Local School Meals,” and participating schools and districts did just that! Schools incorporated local items across the lunch tray in creative and appetizing ways. The menu and photos of students’ trays were submitted to the department to be considered in the contest. Stephanie Stambach coordinated the effort and said that she saw it as one way “to promote the use of local foods in our schools… and to recognize schools for the work they are currently doing with Farm to School.” Read more »
Visiting Hand in Hand Apartments: Administrator Hernandez visits the home of Maria (China) Santos. Santos and her son Juan moved to Maine from Honduras. Left to Right are: USDA Rural Development Administrator for Housing and Community Programs Tony Hernandez; Mano En Mano Outreach Worker Edith Flores; USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel; Hand in Hand Apartments Resident Maria (China) Santos and Son, Juan Santos; and Mano En Mano Executive Director Ian Yaffe.
Recently, Tony Hernandez, USDA Rural Development’s Housing and Community Facilities Administrator visited Maine to see firsthand how Rural Development can support the growing seafood processing industry in Downeast Maine. Tony also met with leaders from the Penobscot Indian Nation to discuss USDA Rural Development’s ongoing support of housing and community development on the Tribal lands.
We had a very valuable trip, starting with a visit to Prospect Harbor to see the Maine Fair Trade Lobster Company. Formerly the Stinson Seafood Cannery, the largest sardine cannery in the nation, the building and equipment were purchased by what became Maine Fair Trade Lobster Company. The purchase preserved much-needed jobs in the area, and the facility now employs approximately 170 workers and processes over 50,000 pounds of lobster every day. We’re working with community leaders in Prospect Harbor to ensure USDA Rural Development supports community capacity building and infrastructure development as businesses like Maine Fair Trade Lobster Company expand and increase employment. Read more »
A Mount Desert Elementary School (MDES) class photo.
The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country. We thank them for sharing their stories!
By Linda Mailhot, Head Cook, Mount Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor Maine on September 24, 2014
Mount Desert Elementary School (MDES) is a small school with a big vision, located on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine. Here we strive to promote a healthy lifestyle for our students through physical activity and nutrition education.
The cafeteria is the biggest classroom in the school where students are taught to make healthy choices for themselves beginning in kindergarten. Students progress each day through a fruit-and-vegetable bar and an entrée station. Along this route they choose the nutritious and appealing foods they need to build a balanced meal according to the new school meal standards issued by USDA. Many of our entrée offerings are multinational, which is a great way to introduce students to nutritional foods from a variety of cultures. By empowering students in the cafeteria, they learn to make healthy choices for life. Read more »
(Left to right) Shawn White and Tom Bielecki, both U.S. Army veterans, and Kevin Black, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, spent the Fourth of July weekend in Plumas County, California. The three veterans are part of the 2014 Warrior Hike. While in Plumas County, they took part in the Mohawk Valley Independence Day celebration. The local Portola Rotary Club and employees from the Plumas National Forest supported the veterans during their stay. (U.S. Forest Service)
U.S. Army veterans Shawn White and Tom Bielecki, along with U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kevin Black, set off to hike the entire Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail on April 12 as part of the Warrior Hike’s Walk Off the War program.
Along the 2,650-mile journey, they will hike through 25 national forests.
They recently passed through Plumas National Forest and stopped in Plumas County, California, where they were welcomed by the local community and invited to participate in the Mohawk Valley Independence Day festivities. The warrior hikers attended all of the weekend’s festivities, including a special recognition ceremony honoring all veterans that followed the Independence Day parade, appropriately themed “Honoring Our Veterans.” Read more »
Maine's agriculture and farm-related demographics are growing and diversifying each year. Check back next Thursday to learn more about the 2012 Census of Agriculture results as we highlight another state.
The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
When examining the status of Maine’s agriculture using statistics derived from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the words “up” and “increase” appear quite often. Our state’s agriculture and farm-related demographics are growing and diversifying each year.
Both the number of farms and land in farms in Maine increased since the last Census of Agriculture in 2007. In fact, we have the most farms of the New England states, and the land in farms is up eight percent from 2007. In addition, the average size of a Maine farm is 178 acres, up seven percent since 2007. Organic production and aquaculture sales increased from between 2007 and 2012 as well: the value of aquaculture sales increased from $26.3 million to $75.1 million (ranking us eighth nationally) and organic products increased from $23.3 million to $36.4 million. Lastly, since the 2007 Census, the total market value of agricultural sales increased 24 percent, the average value of sales per farm increased 23 percent, and the value of crops, including nursery and greenhouse, went up 46 percent. Read more »
In addition to purchasing blueberries for federal food distribution programs, AMS supports the blueberry industry through grant programs like the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This program offers funds to states to support research and marketing projects that do things such as increasing crop yields. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.
Blueberries are often highly sought after because of their long list of health benefits and their sweet taste. Whether purchased fresh, frozen, or pureed, the blueberry has long been a staple in the diets of many people. Every July, the entire nation celebrates Blueberry Month by coming up with creative recipes and other unique ways to get their fill. Here at USDA, every month is Blueberry Month. One of the ways that we show our appreciation for our nation’s blueberry producers and processors is by creating more opportunities for people to enjoy this delicious fruit.
Indigenous to North America, the history of blueberries can be traced all the way back to Native Americans, who added them to soups, stews, and even meats. Highbush or cultivated blueberries are grown on large bushes that are planted in rows. These blueberries are often sent to the fresh market. Lowbush or wild blueberries produce smaller sized berries and are pruned every couple of years. The majority of lowbush blueberries are processed into items like jams, jellies and baked goods. Read more »