Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, pictured in December 2018. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine legislative committee has approved a proposal designed to aid public schools in buying more fresh, local food.

The proposal, by Democratic Sen. Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, would expand the state’s Local Produce Fund to allow schools to buy more food via sources other than directly from farms. Vitelli said the change would also expand the program beyond produce to include protein foods such as meat, fish, tofu and eggs.

The proposal would also increase the reimbursement cap, which would encourage more local purchasing, Vitelli said. Vitelli said that by “expanding the venues that schools can use to buy this food, and expanding the kind of locally produced food they can buy, we’ll help get healthy, fresh food to more students in our state and help more farmers connect with buyers for their produce.”

The proposal will next go before the full Maine Legislature. The Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee approved it earlier this month.