SKOWHEGAN — Wednesday was pick up day at The Pickup.

Dried, red kidney beans from a southern Maine farm and tortilla shells and rice from a local health food store, along with recipes for a Mexican meal were packed and readied as part of a revamped Healthy Kid Pack program for Skowhegan area schools.

“Today we packed out 251 bags of beans for the kids and the schools,” said Sarah Smith, manager of The Pickup, a community-supported agriculture program and cafe at the Somerset Grist Mill. “This weekend I know these kids will be eating beans from a Maine farm as opposed to eating all pre-prepared meals, which are not local at all. They’re having that time with their families to actually prepare the food together.”

While the Healthy Kid Pack program has been sponsored by the New Balance Foundation for about six years, the local food angle began just last month, said Smith, owner of Grassland Farm in Skowhegan.

“Each week is a different local food. Last week we did spinach and garlic, and they did spinach pizzas,” Smith said. “The week before that they did pea soup with garlic and onions and carrots for their soup, and the very first week we did cranberries and oats and apples, and all of it was locally sourced.”

Kate Mantor, the Kid Pack program coordinator, said 275 children in kindergarten and first grade get the healthy packs every Friday for weekend home cooking using local foods. Boxes of food go to students at North Elementary School, Bloomfield Elementary and Canaan Elementary, she said.

“The program was formed as an educational program to teach families and the students healthy snack options,” Mantor said. “It makes for family time, which is very important. The food goes home with a folder with nutritional information and recipes.”

She said the new local food angle includes Cayford’s Orchards of Skowhegan, which provides apples and cider; Ginny’s Natural Corner store in Skowhegan; Backyard Farms in Madison; and Green Thumb Farm in Fryeburg.

“This program is supporting growers and the kids are eating very healthy meal options,” she said. “Each week they are being exposed to a different local food.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]


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