Save Money and Utilize Universal School Meals This Year

Universal Free School Meals

As of the 2022-2023 school year, all Maine public schools provide free lunch and breakfast thanks to the Universal Free School Meals bill passed by Maine lawmakers and signed by Maine Governor Janet Mills. If your family hasn’t taken advantage of this yet, consider the upcoming school year your chance. School meals are better and healthier than ever, and now free!

School Meal Pattern Requirements

Did you know the USDA regulates meal patterns for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP)? Meaning schools must follow strict guidelines regarding what schools can purchase and serve children for breakfast and lunch. These regulations closely align with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommendations. View the breakfast and lunch meal component requirements.


School Meal Pattern Requirements

In addition to the food groups that must be present at each meal (i.e., fruits, vegetables, grains, meat/meat alternatives, and milk), there are minimum recommendations within each food group, per grade level, regarding the amount and type served.

Schools Are Thinking Local

Across Maine, Food Service Directors are working hard to provide fresh and locally sourced food in school cafeterias by connecting with local farms, utilizing salad bars, and participating in programs such as Harvest of the Month (more details on this program below).

Maine Harvest of the Month

Did you know that over 200 schools across Maine participate in the Maine Harvest of the Month (HOM) program? HOM promotes the use of seasonally available local foods in schools, institutions, and communities by providing lessons and activities for students, families, and the community to engage in hands-on opportunities to explore, taste, and learn about the importance of eating fruits
and vegetables, local protein and dairy and being active every day. Find the fall and spring HOM calendar at .

Schools Are Getting Creative

In addition to thinking local, schools are getting creative to entice your children’s palate! Schools are working hard to create homemade recipes that include all the necessary components while keeping it fun and exciting for your children

Chefs Have Entered the Kitchens

Across the state of Maine, Food Service Directors have teamed up with local chefs to enhance the food served to Maine children. Chefs Sam Gasbarro and Khadija Ahemd were brought on by Portland School District as consultants to devise menus, improving meal options to enhance the likeability and diversity of meals served. In Kittery, local restaurant owner and James Beard-Nominated Chef David Vargas has provided his expertise numerous times, with the assistance of other local chefs, to improve and add tasty meals kids will love.

For a quick grab and go breakfast, check out our latest recipe!

By Amelia Sullivan, Dietetic Intern, Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council