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Mayor Helps Launch ‘Choose School Lunch’ Campaign

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Mayor Helps Launch ‘Choose School Lunch’ Campaign
Posted on 02/03/2015
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“Choose School Lunch” is the name of an exciting new campaign to increase awareness of and increase participation in the Portland Public Schools’ school lunch program. The Portland Public Schools’ Food Services Department has won state and national recognition for its creative approach to school lunch, including incorporating local foods across the lunch tray each week on Farm Fresh Fridays.

To help kick off the start of the “Choose School Lunch” Campaign, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan attended a Farm Fresh Fridays lunch at Lyseth Elementary School on Jan. 30 to eat lunch with students.

The mayor talked to students about his and the city's commitment to supporting local food producers and the connection between fresh, healthy and local foods. Then he went through the serving line, seeing firsthand the types of of fresh fruit and vegetables students get to choose from, before joining students for lunch.

“Choose School Lunch” is a collaborative effort between the Portland Public Schools, Cultivating Community, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and FoodCorps, a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders whose goal is to connect children with tasty, healthful food. The campaign focuses on increasing communication with parents and students about recent healthful and delicious changes made to the school lunch program.

Portland Public Schools’ Food Services Department is a leader in using local food in school meal programs. The City of Portland is also a leader in initiatives to improve the health and sustainability of the food systems that support our community, including increasing access to healthier food at schools. To support these initiatives, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan established the Mayor's Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System in 2012.

Ron Adams, Portland Public Schools’ Food Services Director, is a member of the steering committee for the initiative, and is working hard toward the mayor’s goal of increasing the amount of local foods purchased by Food Services to 50 percent by 2016. In order to meet this ambitious goal, Food Services launched Farm Fresh Fridays this past September. Every Friday throughout the school year, the school lunch entrees and sides come from local sources in Maine and the region.

The Portland Public Schools is now launching its “Choose School Lunch” Campaign to encourage more students and their parents to opt for school lunch.

Parent and student engagement in the school meals program is crucially important to continuing to improve the quality of fresh local food offerings available to Portland Public Schools’ students; the more families that participate in the school lunch program, the more resources and flexibility Food Services has to choose the source of the foods purchased.

Learn more about "Choose School Lunch" on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/chooseschoollunch.