South Portland Sea-to-School

Connecting the cafeteria, the classroom, and the community.

We are partnered with the South Portland School Nutrition Program and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association to establish a model for a comprehensive sea-to-school program – one that addresses the need for healthier meals, supports local fishermen, promotes cultural inclusion, and fosters community engagement. This collaborative approach strengthens the community's connection to the school, making the project a shared endeavor that benefits everyone involved.

Project Goals:

  • Build a robust sea-to-school program by focusing on all three facets of farm-to-school: cafeteria, classroom, and community.
  • Increase scratch cooking with culturally diverse seafood recipes through local seafood trainings for food service staff.
  • Engage with teachers to expand use of local seafood curriculum for middle schoolers.
  • Explore business models for currently subsidized local fish and increase local seafood procurement by K-12 schools.
  • Engage the broader community through a series of parent-focused events.

Why local seafood in schools?

Seafood provides key nutrients that help support developing brains, bones, and heart health. Despite the benefits, fish is not regularly served in schools and if served, it is often processed. Seafood is also New England’s most abundant animal protein. Yet, local fishermen compete in a massive global seafood marketplace.

Many fisheries in our region are abundant and responsibly harvested but lack market demand and face tough competition with imports. Comprehensive sea-to-school programs can help build demand and support fishermen all while improving student nutrition.

Learn more about the work we’ve been doing to put seafood in schools.

Seafood being served in a school cafeteria.
Seafood being made in a school cafeteria kitchen.

Diving in Deep with South Portland

Through a grant we received from the Partnerships for Local Agriculture and Nutrition Transformation in Schools (PLANTS) Grant program, we are working with the Chef Ann Foundation to transform school seafood supply chains and create new pathways for student and community engagement.

This project will build a holistic sea-to-school program in South Portland, ME, by strengthening the connections between the cafeteria, classroom, and community – the three key components to a successful local food program in schools.

We will build upon previous work to implement culturally relevant recipes for seafood in schools and to reach middle schoolers with a local seafood curriculum. We will expand training for school foodservice staff, increase procurement by partnering with the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, and connect with the broader community in South Portland through parent-focused events.

An increase in the frequency of culturally diverse local fish recipes will provide healthy, inclusive meals to students. We will document lessons learned and best practices to share across the region and to scale the market opportunities for local fishermen.

Project Team

Project Partners

Project Sponsor

This project is part of the Partnerships for Local Agriculture & Nutrition Transformation in Schools (PLANTS) Grant program, which is funded by the USDA Food & Service Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative and is administered by Chef Ann Foundation.

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