LIVERMORE — Among the administrative updates shared Thursday, Jan.9, with Regional School Unit 73 Directors was a program being used in three of the district’s schools to get students more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food Service Director Laura Lorette said she is using a state program and collaboration with a local grower.

Lorette said she began working with Berry Fruit Farm of Livermore in December. The district received funding through the 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,” she said. “The first week Joel (Gilbert, owner of Berry Fruit Farm in Livermore) 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 used 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 will be attending the Maine Agricultural Trade Show next week to learn more about the Maine Farm to School program.

Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education Director Robyn Raymond said representatives from seven different businesses and a staff member from Sen. Angus King’s office attended a culinary luncheon Wednesday, Jan. 8. The luncheon was an opportunity to see the Work Ready community in action and discuss barriers for employment in greater Franklin County.

Work Ready is a 60-hour state recognized credential program.

Raymond said she has been asked to serve on the state Workforce Board for strategic planning. Her emphasis is on the employability outcome for youth 16-24 years of age.

“I attended a meeting in Portland where a group of 16-24 year olds spoke about barriers from their perspective,” she said.

Director of Special Services Tammy Verreault said there has been movement in and out of the district of students with special needs.

“55 students have been added this year in Special Ed,” she said. “The average has been 250. We’re now at 300. That’s a lot. There are 38 or 39 in referral now.”

Director Doug DiPasquale asked if Verreault knew if numbers were increasing in other districts nearby.

She said she has heard a lot of people are moving in and out in other districts too with the situation in RSU 73 being a bit unique.

Director Andrew Sylvester asked what percentage of special needs students was.

Verreault said the rate changes from year to year with the state average about 18%.

“We’re a bit high,” she said.

When asked, Verreault said that doesn’t include gifted and talented or 504 students.

Directors also unanimously approved ratifying the contract between the district and Teamsters Local Union #340. Changes to the contract will not be made public until after the contract is signed.

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