PORTLAND, Maine — Beginning this fall, every Thursday will be Buy Local Day in the Portland Public Schools’ cafeterias.
Selections will include Bristol Seafood Atlantic Haddock, beef from Maine Grind in Guilford, Amato’s Bakery breads and farm-fresh fruits and vegetables from a variety of sources.
During the 2012-2013 school year, the district served more than 50,000 pounds of local fruit and vegetables. The Portland Public Schools’ Food Service spends approximately 12 percent of food dollars, excluding dairy, on local products.
This is a huge feat matched by few districts nationwide, especially urban ones. The district’s goal is to increase regional foods so that they account for 30 percent of the food budget.
The district is asking parents to show their support for fresh, local foods in the school meals program by having students buy lunch every Thursday. Lunch costs $2.50 for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and $2.75 for middle school and high school students. There is no charge for students whose families qualify for free and reduced price lunch.
Parents may arrange to have lunch with a student by calling the school office in advance and paying $4 per person.
Local Foods Thursdays will begin on Sept. 5 with a meal featuring Beefy Maine Marinara sauce made with local tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini and golden beets. On Sept. 12, the menu will include Maine cheeseburgers with beef raised and processed in Guilford, local cherry tomatoes, carrots and McIntosh apples.
The district will observe Maine Harvest Lunch Week Sept. 16-20. The menu will feature Maine broccoli, Two-Alarm Chili made with Vermont cranberry beans from Exeter, kale from the Sustainable Agriculture program and peppers from Spear Farm, chef salad made with local Romaine lettuce and sliced strawberries from Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham, baked Bristol Seafood Atlantic haddock, oven-roasted Delicata squash from Wealden Farm in Freeport, Northern Girl carrot sticks, Maine McIntosh apples and pesto pizza with Snell Family Farm basil, garlic and sunflower seeds, using a whole-grain crust from Amato’s Bakery, served with local cherry tomatoes and Wyman blueberry crisp.
For weekly menus and more information about the Portland Public Schools’ food service program, please visit http://www2.portlandschools.