AUGUSTA — A Kennebec County health coalition will get $100,000 in federal money to strengthen relationships between local farms and schools to get more Maine food in students’ lunches.

The office of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, announced the grant to Healthy Communities of the Capital Area from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday. The money comes as part of the federal government’s Farm to School program, aimed at increasing schools’ access to local food.

According to Pingree’s office, the money will be used over a two-year period to “streamline ordering, delivery, and processing” between farms and schools through links to existing food-buying clubs, including development of a local purchasing guide for schools that lists farmers’ contact information and product availability.

Maine already has a high rate of participation in Farm to School activities. In the 2011-12 school year, the USDA said 85 percent of Maine school districts reported using some local food in meals, nearly doubling the 43 percent participation rate nationwide.

For example, Regional School Unit 2, made up of Hallowell, Farmingdale, Dresden, Richmond and Monmouth, reported spending 12 percent of its food budget on Maine-produced goods that year.

Pingree, whose husband, S. Donald Sussman, is majority owner of MaineToday Media, which owns the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald, said Healthy Communities of the Capital Area will be able to expand existing programs under the grant.

“Maine schools today want to buy more food locally, but there aren’t many systems in place to help them do it easily,” she said in a statement. “This investment will help fund innovative efforts to help schools overcome those barriers.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.