Sheila Costello (Right), Nutrition Director at Waldo County General Hospital, meets with Farmer Sarah Lincoln-Harrison at True North Farms in Montville, ME.

Sheila Costello (Right), Nutrition Director at Waldo County General Hospital, meets with Farmer Sarah Lincoln-Harrison at True North Farms in Montville, ME.

MEFTI's CREATION 

For over 10 years the Maine Farm to School movement has worked to increase the amount of locally sourced Maine food in school meals in an effort to support Maine’s economy, improve health, and develop understanding of food origins, while becoming more reliant on the local food system. This is accomplished through a network dedicated to developing procurement strategies, delivering agriculture education, informing policy initiatives, and creating networking opportunities. More recently, other institutional settings such as hospitals and colleges have begun developing systems for local food purchasing.

In 2015, the Maine Farm to School Network secured support from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation to develop a process to knit together these efforts to catalyze a social impact network focused on farm to institution in Maine. By creating a learning and sharing community focused on farm to institution, the amount of Maine harvested foods served in these settings across the state will increase over time and contribute to a healthy and sustainable regional food system.

STRUCTURE & FUNDING

MEFTI is led by a small leadership team who represent a variety of food-serving institutional sectors, networks, organizations, and geographic locations within Maine. The leadership team determines the strategic direction for MEFTI, as well as contributes to fundraising, event-planning, network building, and other major projects. This is accomplished through monthly meetings, which alternate between in-person and video conference calls.

MEFTI is fiscally sponsored by Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, with one HCCA staff member serving as the part-time Coordinator for MEFTI, who also sits on the Leadership Team. MEFTI is primarily supported by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation with additional support for specific initiatives.

The Coordinator carries out day to day functions related to fundraising, event-planning, meeting planning and logistics, communications, project management, and more. Other leadership team members contribute based on individual areas of expertise and as time allows. Contractors are also hired from time to time to assist with specific projects.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS Include:

  • Funding secured from Elmina B. Sewall Foundation 2015-2020

  • Formation of Leadership Team with cross-sector, food-serving institution expertise

  • Leveraged Sewall support to secure additional funding for specific projects from University of Maine, Maine CDC, ME Department of Education, Henry P. Kendall Foundation, Maine Ag in the Classroom, ME Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, and National Farm to School Network

  • Convened 3 regional gatherings in 2015-2016 of 73 cross-sector stakeholders (Ellsworth, Fort Kent, Standish)

  • In 2015, began incorporating cross-sector themes into the ME Farm to School Conference

  • Report: Harvest of the Month Implementation in Maine 2017

  • Report: Increasing Fruit & Vegetable Consumption in Central Public Health District Food-Serving Institutions 2017

  • Supported 23 Maine attendees at the New England Farm to Institution Summit 2017

  • Secured funding to launch Maine Harvest of the Month in K-12 schools in 2018

  • Held first Maine Farm to Institution Summit in 2018 with 225 attendees

  • Launched MEFTI and Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN) websites in 2018

  • Increased collaboration with state, regional, and national partners

WHERE DO We go FROM HERE?

MEFTI is working to catalyze a multi-sector network focused on farm to institution in Maine to help build a healthy and sustainable regional food system. A small leadership team, representing K-12 schools, colleges, and hospitals is focusing on internal vision, goal-setting, and network mapping that will allow MEFTI to further build the multi-sector network and increase effectiveness. Simultaneously, MEFTI is working to engage farm to institution stakeholders through networking opportunities and through sharing information and best practices.  Ongoing efforts and aspirational goals include:

  • Continuing to organize and collaborate on convenings that bring together multiple institutional sectors and local food system stakeholders

  • Sharing information and resources via communication platforms such as events, newsletters, social media, and the website

  • Identifying strategic needs and lever points in farm to institution in the state through data collection and other outreach

    • Once needs have been identified, working with others to determine the best stakeholders to address these needs and assist in fundraising and project development where appropriate

  • Advocating for farm to institution policies at the state and local level

  • Conducting ongoing analysis of the measures of success for MEFTI’s work, which can be shared broadly with the network