The program seeks to buy local products

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

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

“This [food box] program we’re doing is an extra thing,” Parker-Crockett said. “We applied for a grant late last year through the TEGNA Foundation. We received $5,000 and will be providing our child care providers with local food boxes throughout the summer.

“We try 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 seen, especially in grocery stores [access may be limited]. Soon after food is picked, it begins to lose its nutritional value. If we can get some of these local foods into our child care centers, these children will receive the most nutritious food possible. It will also boost our local economy.

“We are considering at least three different local food deliveries. We will contact local farmers to provide these boxes. We also partner with Maine Grains to provide a box of whole grain flours, cornmeal, barley, etc. Beans will also be part of it.

Parker-Crockett said the products would be purchased from local farmers. All farmers interested in participating should email [email protected]

“I worked 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 an 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 education materials will also be available for child care providers and parents, she said. Colleague Amanda Moody will work on these materials while Parker-Crockett will be responsible for budgeting and connecting with farmers.

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

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

“Most of our daycares are in low-income areas, so we’re also addressing that by providing local food boxes,” Parker-Crockett said.

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