School districts prevent significant food spoilage despite prolonged power outages

By Ben Holbrook | Dec 30, 2013

Despite lengthy power outages due to an ice storm that battered coastal and central Maine earlier in the week, Regional School Units 3 and 20 managed to salvage food supplies in the schools with the help of back up generators.

Regional School Unit 3 Nutrition Director Allison Daugherty said the district was fortunate because none of the food stored in the schools spoiled. She said via an email to The Republican Journal that most of the schools have a back up generator that was able to keep the refrigeration units running and prevent the food from spoiling.

However, Daugherty said there was a “close call” at Monroe Elementary School, which does not have a generator. She said staff were able to quickly move the food from Monroe to Morse Memorial School as soon as the power went out.

She said because of the colder temperatures, the food staff transported from Monroe to Morse stayed within the safe temperature range. If it had been summer time, Daugherty said it probably would have been a different story trying to move the food between the two schools.

According to the State of Maine food distribution handbook, any frozen foods must be kept at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less. During transportation of the food, the temperature of the products cannot exceed 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the handbook states.

Chilled products must be kept at a temperature range of 34 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Regional School Unit 20 Food Services Director Perley Martin said three of the district's schools, Ames, Nickerson and Weymouth, lost power for two to three days as a result of the ice storm.

He said he gave his staff specific instructions on how to handle and dispose of any possible food spoilage. Martin said overall, the amount of food that potentially spoiled was very minimal because of the winter vacation, which allowed the district to have less food on hand.

Martin said he will be providing a full report of any food that was lost to Superintendent Brian Carpenter this week, and he estimated the value of the spoiled food at about $500.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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