Full Plates Full Potential, a nonprofit fighting childhood food insecurity in Maine, was awarded a $7.4 million federal grant to help bring Maine-based foods into school meal programs and develop solutions for nutrition access.

The Brunswick-based agency is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and will use the grant money to support seven local groups in the state, including school districts and partner organizations, over the next four years.

“This significant investment of federal dollars will facilitate the kind of exciting food system-wide partnerships needed to transform our school food system and the health and wellbeing of Maine’s young people through the power and potential of healthy, locally-produced Maine foods,” Justin Strasburger, executive director of Full Plates Full Potential, said in a written statement.

A portion of the grant funding will support efforts to improve the ingredients and quality of school meals.

• Five Pillars Butchery will use $1.5 million to provide culturally appropriate meals with halal meat to schools in the Auburn and Waterville school districts.

• Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, based in Brunswick, will receive $608,606 to offer their locally-sourced seafood products in more schools.


• The Good Crust in Somerset County will use $1.5 million to incorporate healthier grains and better ingredients into breakfast and lunch offerings in schools.

• Maine School Administrative District 54 is getting $225,887 to support a collaborative program between the Somerset County Jail and the school district in which incarcerated people process and prepare produce that can be used in school meals year round.

Other awardees are focused on developing better practices for managing and sourcing food.

• Auburn Public Schools will use $623,970 to support the development of a food processing hub shared with Lewiston and Lisbon, and strengthen partnerships with local growers.

• Maine Food Strategy and Maine Food Convergence will use $1.4 million to create a Local Food Switchboard, a virtual logistical hub to connect Maine’s local food system with schools.

• Peak Season will use $1.49 million to expand food distribution to more schools and update the ordering system to source more produce from Maine growers.

While these pilot programs will use the funds to improve local food access, they have the potential to be expanded to other areas, according to the USDA press release.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a written statement that these funded initiatives “will allow schools to purchase a wider variety of healthy, appealing products from local and regional producers, while building a more resilient and equitable food system.”

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