FOODCYCLE FOUNDER Adam Williams eyeballs the placement of a photo print at Frontier Café in Brunswick with exhibit coordinator Emily Wolf Walker on Monday. The photography exhibit is part of a fundraiser the organization will host at Frontier on Thursday.

FOODCYCLE FOUNDER Adam Williams eyeballs the placement of a photo print at Frontier Café in Brunswick with exhibit coordinator Emily Wolf Walker on Monday. The photography exhibit is part of a fundraiser the organization will host at Frontier on Thursday.

BRUNSWICK — Conceptually, Adam Williams said, most agree that sourcing school meals from local farms is a good idea.

THIS PHOTO is an example of the art that will be on exhibit Thursday as part of a fundraiser for FoodCycle, an initiative designed to raise money to buy food from local farmers to serve at local schools.

THIS PHOTO is an example of the art that will be on exhibit Thursday as part of a fundraiser for FoodCycle, an initiative designed to raise money to buy food from local farmers to serve at local schools.

“What they need,” Williams said, “is to see it happen.”

After two years of incubation, Williams’ idea to create that connection is ready to germinate.

Next month, it will take off — on bicycles — from Brunswick.

Williams is the founder of FoodCycle, a project he said will take him more than 4,500 miles, coast to coast, by bicycle, in search of the best innovations and partnerships in local farming. His goal is to bring those lessons back to Brunswick.

“The goal is that by going across the U.S., we’ll be able to document and find people who are driving this emerging push for nutritional reform,” Williams said.

Beyond that, Williams hopes to raise $10,000 to buy food from local farms for Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School this fall as part of FoodCycle’s pilot project.

The group will host its first official fundraiser Thursday, with a ticketed dinner and photography show at Frontier Café.

So far, Williams and his girlfriend and FoodCycle riding partner Leah Heyman have raised a tenth of the $10,000 that he said will buy around 3,000 pounds of food.

Scott Smith, who serves as the food service director for the Brunswick School Department and School Administrative District 75, said that he likes having food that is grown locally, but tight budgets can make that impractical.

“Like everyone else, our budgets are very tight and we need to shop around to find the best value,” Smith said.

Smith said that any donations from FoodCycle will help offset the amount of local funds used to buy food for the district.

“Sometimes, the local farmers and organic farmers tend to charge a little more for their product,” he said.

The problem, Williams said, is not that the prices are too high, but that that federal subsidies benefit the wrong food sources.

“Why don’t we have a system that subsidizes buying organic and local food?” Williams asked.

Smith said that approximately $50,000 in federally subsidized food comes to the Brunswick district directly, with more in reimbursements for meals served.

Instead of making school lunches from $50,000 of food products from widely produced commodity crops, Williams would like to see that $50,000 available to schools to spend on locally grown foods.

“If you’re a kid in Brunswick, you have access to some of the best food in the world,” Williams said, “but you wouldn’t know that by looking at a school lunch.”

Reflecting on his time as a student going through Brunswick schools, Williams remembers days when he was less than enthusiastic about the meals.

“I really loved Thursday because it was turkey, gravy and mashed potato day, but the chow mein day and faux Chinese food was the worst day of my week,” Williams said.

The push for healthier meals fits in with the district’s “Colors Week,” Smith said, during which different days are assigned a color and students learn about and eat foods of those various colors.

Williams also hopes that his trip will reveal ways to incorporate lessons about farming and local agriculture into school curriculum early.

“When kids are in fourth grade and are learning about agriculture, we want it to be about more than just potato farming in Maine,” Williams said.

He would like to see the curriculum include smaller, polycultural farms, which grow more than one type of crop.

Changes to school nutrition standards are on the way nationally, Smith said, with new federal guidelines for school meals due out next fall.

While Smith is relatively new to SAD 75 and the Brunswick district, he’s not new to the industry. During his 25 years in food services, he’s seen a growing momentum for local food in schools.

“I think it’s been an ongoing process that has evolved over time,” Smith said. “Certainly, this farm-to-school piece has become more prevalent in the last few years.”

Leading up to Williams’ and Heyman’s departure from Brunswick next month, Williams said the group has a few events planned, including Thursday’s fundraiser and a bike tour of local farms in partnership with the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) on April 15.

Frontier Café programming manager Sean Morin said that a menu for Thursday’s buffet-style meal is still being crafted, as most of the foods will be coming from local farms.

“It’s perfect for us because it allows us to be creative with the food that Adam is providing to us from local farms,” Morin said.

Williams said the event will include a raffle for items from local retailers, a photography exhibit illustrating the group’s mission and information on farming.

Doors for the fundraiser open at 5 p.m. Dinner will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

For more information, visit www.foodcycleus.com.

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