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Maine nonprofit awarded $10 million from feds to help get more local food on school lunch trays

Patty Wight
Maine Public file
Students load up their cafeteria trays in 2016.

An anti-hunger organization in Maine has received $10 million in federal funds to get more local food into Maine schools.

The nonprofit Full Plates Full Potential announced today that it has been selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to manage the five-year grant.

Executive Director Justin Strasburger says the goal is to connect schools with local farmers and fishermen, improve food processing infrastructure and provide schools with more equipment and training on how to prepare local meals.

"It's a win for students, who get less processed, more delicious meals. It's a win for Maine's producers, who get invested in. And it's even a win for the environment, as we reduce food waste and dramatically reduce the miles that food travels to get to the plate," he says.

Strasburger says that while Maine is one of the first states to make school meals free for all public school students, the new grant will help to reshape what those meals look and taste like.

"This is an opportunity to permanently transform Maine's school food system, through local foods. And provide a roadmap for other states to follow Maine's lead," he says.

About $8.4 million will go directly to schools and other partners.

The group expects to start soliciting applications this fall.