FARMINGTON — With preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, school nutrition professionals have a lot on their plates.

School districts all over Maine, while operating within very tight budgets, are working hard to include as much locally grown foods as possible into their menus.

RSU 9 School Nutrition Director Andy Hutchins worked closely with local pizza dough manufacturer “It’ll Be Pizza” in Scarborough and food service specialist Lee Walker from Sysco, to create a pizza dough recipe that meets the expectations of today’s students while meeting the USDA’s nutritional requirements for school nutrition programs.

Not only did Hutchins work with It’ll Be Pizza to develop this dough specifically for use at RSU 9, but the dough will also be sold through the district’s regular food distributor, enabling the opportunity for expansion to other districts in the future.

RSU 9 will be the first school district in Maine to offer this healthy, local pizza option to its students, with hope for growth throughout Maine schools in the future.

“I am humbled and thankful to work with such great partners who have helped make this project a reality,” said Chef Hutchins.

“It took some trial and error and a great deal of effort, but in the end we have a fantastic product that is made right here in Maine, by Maine workers, using Maine-grown grains. Having it stocked for sale by a major distributor closes the loop and makes it sustainable all the way from the farm to the fork,” he said.

All RSU 9 school cafeterias participate in the Let’s Go! 5210 program and carry out a Smarter Lunchroom model where the healthy choice is made the easy choice. With the addition of this locally sourced whole grain pizza dough option, RSU 9 cafeterias continue to carry out this model.

Hutchins is also a strong component of the RSU 9 Farm to School Workgroup and continues to find new opportunities and ideas in exposing students to local foods and farms.

Here’s a two-minute video if you want to learn more about the Let’s Go! school nutrition model carried out in RSU 9’s and other Maine school cafeterias.

Hot pizza – with dough made from locally souced whole grains – awaits hungry students in an RSU 9 cafeteria.

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