FARMINGTON — Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County, Franklin County Let’s Go!, the Maine Department of Education, SYSCO food vendor, Regional School Unit 9 and several food brokers partnered to host a training for 80 regional school nutrition staff on Aug. 15 at Mt. Blue High School.

The training met state requirements that included fine tuning cooking and meal planning skills for school nutrition professionals, according to a news release from Franklin Memorial Hospital.

Andy Hutchins, RSU 9 school nutrition director and a member of the Franklin County Let’s Go! School Nutrition Workgroup, spearheaded event coordination. Funding was provided by Let’s Go! and the Full Plates Full Potential initiative, according to the release.

School nutrition professionals are charged with the difficult task of providing a healthy meal that meets state and federal standards on a tight budget, while making it tasty and appealing to students. This free training allowed school nutrition professionals to complete many of their required yearly training hours before the school year began.

Sessions included kitchen first aid safety, techniques to integrate spices and seasonings into meals, techniques for cooking in the school cafeteria setting, a game show-style session with food safety and reimbursable meal information, recipe crediting to meet state regulations, updates on state and federal regulations, and a civil rights presentation from the Maine Department of Education.

The training received accolades from participants who commented that the training was presented in a meaningful and fun way. “It was amazing to see so many school districts and other entities coming together in unison, all for the good of our local child nutrition programs,” said Hutchins, according to the release. “Ongoing training is such an essential part of any school nutrition program and this event was a huge win for foodservice staff and the children we serve.”

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