LIVERMORE — Laura Lorette, the food service director in Regional School Unit 73, is using a state program and collaboration with a local grower to get more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables into most of the district’s schools.

Lorette told the RSU 73 board of directors Thursday night she began working in December with Berry Fruit Farm of Livermore.

The district received funding through the Maine Department of Education’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for students in the primary, elementary and middle schools. High school students are not eligible.

“We’re looking at providing 940 servings three times a week,” Lorette said. “The first week Joel (Gilbert, owner of Berry Fruit Farm) provided one item. I took care of procurement of other items. We’re keeping it local when we can.

“Joel is currently providing two of the three items. He procures baby carrots and California oranges and packages them.”

Lorette said whole oranges can be problematic for staff. Gilbert quarters the oranges and packages half an orange in covered plastic containers. The carrots are sealed in plastic bags.

Celery and other items were part of the program earlier.

“The next six weeks are going to be a challenge to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” Lorette said. “We can offer a cooked product, but that can be problematic.”

Lorette said Gilbert expects to have apples from his orchard available through March. One of the vendors is from the Boston market, she said.

“When produce opens up, we may do more,” Lorette said. “It’s really nice to get local produce.”

Lorette said she will be attending the Maine Agricultural Trade Show next week to learn more about the Maine Farm to School program.

In other matters, Tammy Verreault, the district’s director of special services, said there has been significant movement into and out of the district of students with special needs.

She said 55 students have been added this year in special education.

“The average has been 250,” Verreault said. “We’re now at 300. That’s a lot. There are 38 or 39 in referral now.”

Director Doug DiPasquale of the RSU 73 board asked if Verreault knew if numbers were increasing in other districts nearby.

She said she had heard many people have been moving into and out of other districts, too.



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