EAST WILTON — Local farmers with produce to sell are needed for a program that will provide food boxes to home daycares.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program, CACFP reimburses home daycares for following healthy meal and snack guidelines, program coordinator Meghan Parker-Crockett said Wednesday, June 8. Daycares get reimbursed per meal, per snack as long as they follow the guidelines, she noted.

“This [food box] program that we are doing is an extra thing,” Parker-Crockett said. “We applied for a grant the end of last year through the TEGNA Foundation. We were awarded $5,000 and we will be providing our daycare providers with local food boxes throughout the summer.

“We are trying to provide children in community daycares with access to fruits and vegetables for their optimal growth and development. We know that with the shortages we have been seeing, especially in grocery stores [access may be limited]. Shortly after food is picked it starts losing its nutritional value so if we can get some of these local foods into our daycares these children will be receiving the most nutritious foods they can possibly get. It will also be stimulating our local economy.

“We are thinking at least three different deliveries of local foods. We are going to connect with local farmers to provide those boxes. We are also partnering with Maine Grains to provide a box of whole grain flours, corn meals, barley, things like that. Beans will be part of that as well.”

Parker-Crockett said produce will be purchased from local farmers. Any farmers interested in participating should email [email protected]

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“I have been working with local farmers with [Women, Infants and Children program at Western Maine Community Action] for many years,” she said. “We want to give all farmers equal opportunity to apply.”

A similar program was in place in 2019 but was phased out due to COVID-19 restrictions, Parker-Crockett said.

Nutrition educational materials will also be available to daycare providers and parents, she said. Co-worker Amanda Moody will be working on those materials while Parker-Crockett will be responsible for budgeting and connecting with the farmers.

Daycares in the greater Franklin County area are eligible to participate and many are already signed up, Moody said Wednesday afternoon. Interested providers should call 207-860-4485.

Information on how daycares and parents can access local foods themselves will also be shared.

“Most of our daycares are located in low income areas, so we are addressing that as well by providing the local food boxes,” Parker-Crockett said.

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