The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine received $50,000 in state funding to promote its school sales.
The agricultural development grant was awarded by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to help Maine's blueberry growers grab a larger share of the school lunch business. Sales have been flat, the commission said.
Last year, the USDA purchased 500,000 pounds of frozen wild blueberries for use by U.S. public schools — a small share of the 114 million pounds of frozen fruit, frozen vegetables and frozen orange juice used by schools annually.
"These funds will allow our industry to launch a significant marketing effort that promotes wild blueberries as an ideal school food. We expect the results to deliver a measurable increase in sales and the creation of a stable market channel for the 510 wild blueberry growers and processors here in Maine," said Nancy McBrady, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, which represents more than 500 growers and processors.