Two bowls of monkfish stew served with bread. Courtesy of Maine Coast Monkfish Stew

Locally sourced monkfish stew is now cleared to be included in school lunches thanks to the Maine Local Foods Fund.

The stew — produced by local company Maine Coast Monkfish Stew — is one of two food products to receive the first qualifications from Maine Local Foods Fund, overseen by the Maine Department of Education. The program offers fund-matching incentives for schools to purchase food that is grown, caught, harvested or produced in Maine.

Barbara Austin, Brunswick Junior High School kitchen manager serves monkfish stew. Courtesy of Susan Olcott

Monkfish, a homely bottom-dweller, is growing in popularity because of its wide availability and mild, slightly sweet flavor.

The second food product, Maine marinara, is produced by the Maine Marinara Collaborative. Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative, which is one of several entities that make up the MCC, hopes the certification will allow the company to provide more Maine-grown and produced sauce in the coming year.

“It’s estimated that 33% of all food grown in Maine is left in the field,” said Ron Adams, chief operations officer of the cooperative. “Utilizing the blemished tomato or the curly carrot can help Maine farmers with a new revenue stream, while providing local ingredients for a healthy school lunch.”

In a similar effort, Maine Coast Monkfish Stew, which is a joint venture between Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and Hurricane’s Premium Soups and Chowders, uses underutilized and more sustainable fish like monkfish to familiarize Mainers with lesser-known seafood options.


During outreach efforts, both companies sent samples of their products to local schools and reported positive feedback amongst students.

Maine marinara sauce is served on a school lunch tray. Courtesy of Ron Adams

Brunswick Junior High School was one of the first taste-testers of the monkfish stew. According to Susan Olcott, the director of operations at Maine Fishermen’s Association, students who received samples loved the taste.

Students at the elementary level shared positive feedback as well.

“Some kids said they would like it every day,” said Chef Vicky Dill, who works at Whitefield Elementary School in North Whitefield and had students sample the dish.

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