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USDA Under Secretary To Tour DHS Kitchen, Lunch with Students

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USDA Under Secretary To Tour DHS Kitchen, Lunch with Students
Posted on 06/10/2015
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U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon will be visiting Deering High School on Friday, June 12, to see firsthand an example of the Portland Public Schools’ food service operation, which is funded, authorized and regulated under the programs in the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service division.

Concannon, whose full title is Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, is scheduled to visit from 10:30 a.m. until noon at the high school, located at 370 Stevens Avenue.

The DHS kitchen illustrates the need for further funding for the nation’s school kitchens. The DHS kitchen was last renovated in the 1990s and has equipment that is more than 25 years old. The equipment is prone to breakdowns and is energy inefficient and faces challenges when it comes to meeting strict new food safety parameters.

After the kitchen tour, Concannon will join a small group of students from the Freshmen Hunger Project to hear about their dynamic project from this spring. During the month of March, DHS freshman students explored the issues of hunger and food security in their math, English, science and social studies classes. Through public service announcements, letters to policy makers, photo voice projects, and other creative learning, they examined such questions as: “Why do hunger and poverty exist?” “What are the challenges we face in dealing with hunger and poverty?” and “What can students do at Deering to improve food security?” Concannon will hear how students plan to address hunger.

He’ll also get to experience how local foods can be an important part of school menus by sharing a Farm Fresh Friday school lunch with students. On the menu are steak sandwiches made from Maine beef, spicy chicken wings and local fruits, vegetables and milk. The Portland Public Schools’ Food Services Department is a leader in using local food in school meal programs and implemented Farm Fresh Friday to feature a local entrée and local fruits and vegetables each week. The district also serves local milk every day.

In the afternoon, Concannon will be meeting with the Cumberland County Food Security Council.