Mountain Valley High School students Ben DeSalle, Owen Gaudette and Chase Duguay enjoy lunch Thursday provided by Maine Harvest Lunch in Rumford. Foods from local farms, gardens and greenhouses are included in the program. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Students from the seven towns in Regional School Unit 10 were served Maine produce, beef and fish for lunch Thursday as part of the Maine Harvest Lunch nutrition program.

The program teaches children where food comes from, including farms, gardens and greenhouses, and fish markets.

Although serving fresh vegetables from area farms is more labor intensive for the cafeteria staff, students and staff at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford enjoy the benefits of them, RSU 10 Nutrition Director Jeanne LaPointe said Thursday.

Napapath Hostetter, left, and Sheila Albanesi prepare foods from local farms Thursday in the cafeteria at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Submitted photo

On Thursday, the lunch crowd has their choice of a shaved-steak bomb with beef from Caldwell Farm of Turner or a fish sandwich with fish from the docks in Portland, and melted cheddar cheese from Pineland Farm in New Gloucester.

Flood Zone Farm in Canton provided potatoes, seasoned and served as potato wedges, and Berry Fruit Farm in Livermore supplemented fresh peaches. The milk came from Oakhurst Dairy in Portland.

“Everything has come from Maine,” Toni Reed, the kitchen manager at the high school, said. “So we have four different kinds of roasted vegetables that are all from Maine.


She said food from area farms makes a difference to the students, since many of them know the people who run those farms. The district’s schools have also regularly used yogurt from The Milkhouse Farm and Dairy in Monmouth to make breakfast parfaits and smoothies.

Students have have really enjoyed the local foods, she said. “It tastes different when it comes from just down the street rather than from across the country,” she said.

Student Ben DeSalle, sitting with friends Owen Gaudette and Chase Duguay in the cafeteria, said Thursday’s lunch was “a lot better than a regular school lunch.” Kaden Mills called the food “really good.” He said his grandparents have a farm and that’s another reason why he appreciates local food.

Educational Technician Paige Berry said she enjoyed the roasted broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.

Foods from local farms are served Thursday at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Submitted photo

Supervising the cafeteria, Assistant Principal Craig Milledge said, “I always ask them, ‘how was breakfast’ or (lunch), and overwhelmingly the answer is, ‘it’s really good,’ and they mean it.”

LaPointe said if students or staff aren’t happy with the food choices, they have options.


“At the high school, we’re serving salad, charcuterie boxes, and yogurt smoothies and parfaits (every day).” The cafeteria staff make veggie burgers from scratch served daily.

Fish coming from the piers in Portland is also available to Maine institutions at no cost through a Fishermen Feeding Mainers program, LaPointe said.

“It’s been supported during the pandemic to support the fishermen when they didn’t have much of a market because the restaurants quieted down and they had no one to buy their catch,” she said. Last week she went to Portland and picked up “60 to 80 pounds (of fish) for the schools and to share with “neighbors up in Bethel,” she said.

The district is in its second year of the three-year, USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant, which supports local farm economies through programs like Maine Harvest Lunch. “Through the Farm to School Grant we also have a pot of money to spend on local food, so it’s really been a boon to that movement,” LaPointe said.

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