SULLIVAN — This spring, more than 100 schools across the state are pledging to serve seasonal, local products in their cafeterias through Maine’s Harvest of the Month Program.
At Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan, the school is also seeking to serve more local foods through a grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation, a private organization established to help improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Maine.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to ease some of the local tax burden, and this one really spoke to us because the proposal process really targets people who might live with food insecurity,” said Sumner Principal Ty Thurlow.
The grant, for $25,000, would supplement the school’s current nutrition program by serving produce from local growers. With 240 students and 175 school days, that comes out to 59 cents per student per day.
“We have several organic farms and people in the area who grow their own food that have offered to help our students learn about that process,” Thurlow said. “We look at that as a lesson that has many uses, skills that they can take into their adult lives.”
In addition to sourcing the food from local growers, the grant would potentially allow the school to build raised beds in which students could then grow their own vegetables at Sumner.
“There are people here in Sullivan who are really interested in teaching what can be grow here in Maine, the important details of what to plant and when to harvest,” Thurlow said. “For me, growing up with a three-acre vegetable garden, that was such a staple. And now hopefully we can have that here on and off campus.”
If the grant is approved, Thurlow said the school could begin partnering with local farms and anyone interested in participating as soon as sometime next fall.