Dear Families,

Every fruit and vegetable have a season, and this time of year is when locally grown options are easy to find with fresh flavors at their peak. Purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables is good for local agriculture. Our Kitchen Coordinator, Kelly Murphy, buys the majority of what hits our plates through Native Maine Produce, who believes in supporting New England’s vibrant and diverse food system. And thanks to our staff member, Lisa Delisle and board member and retired educator, Pam Hopkins, we once again have our own Center garden, where garden-based learning connects our preschoolers and school age kids to agriculture and introduces them to new foods. Research has shown that when children are involved in the planting and growing process, they are more willing to taste the foods we serve.

If I have learned anything as a teacher, mom, and cook, it’s that the best ingredient that goes into a meal is love. It helps, too, if there are good, healthy ingredients and if we know where our food comes from. In the case of The Children’s Center, we have all of this, thanks to Kelly. I know how much thought and care she puts into each snack and lunch she serves.

Kelly also works tirelessly finding the right substitutions when needed. We recently made the decision to provide as a second choice, oat milk, which is a popular dairy-, lactose-, soy-, nut-free, vegan-friendly milk substitute. It’s made by soaking and blending steel-cut or rolled oats with water and then straining them through cheesecloth to separate the milk from the oats. This plant-based alternative is a sensible option for us to purchase and have available for those children who can not drink regular milk. Kelly has also learned over the years that there are ways to make meals that “sneak” in the healthy ingredient’s children need. I have already seen her “sneak” in the oat milk into her infamous smoothies and can’t wait to see what else she cooks up for us during the summer months ahead.

Here’s to a fresh and healthy summer!
Teri Ann